Study Eases Some Fears about Infants' Fevers

Article excerpt

Hospitalizing 1- or 2-month-old infants if they are running a fever may not be necessary if the newborns are carefully screened, researchers at Philadelphia's Children's Hospital say.

Hospitalization often is recommended at major medical centers because of fears that the child may suffer from serious bacterial infection requiring antibiotic treatment.

But such treatment is expensive and frequently unnecessary, because the infant may simply have a routine virus, according to the study published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

A team led by Dr. Douglas Baker performed blood, urine, feces and spinal fluid analysis, combined with chest X-rays, on 747 babies between 29 and 56 days old. All had temperatures above 100.7 degrees Fahrenheit (38.1 degrees centigrade).

When either the test results or a physician's examination suggested a serious infection, the infants were hospitalized and given antibiotics.

The rest were either hospitalized for observation, or sent home if the family had a working telephone and could reach the hospital quickly in case of emergency. …