Pediatricians develop new guidelines to treat infants with fevers

It is one of the most difficult parts of being a new parent — your infant has a fever and you’re not sure what to do.

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But the American Academy of Pediatrics has tried to lessen the confusion to help determine when an infant with a fever needs to be hospitalized or when a baby doesn’t, the “Today” show reported.

The new guidelines were recently published in the Pediatrics medical journal and the AAP called it “a blueprint for clinicians who want to ‘safely do less.’”

They hope to cut down on the number of invasive tests that a newborn could go through when presenting with a fever.

The guidelines were developed by looking at infants from “general pediatrics, infectious disease, pediatric emergency medicine, general emergency medicine and hospital medicine.” The AAP also worked with experts in epidemiology and algorithms to develop the plan.

Now if an infant younger than 60 days old has a fever, parents should call a doctor. For babies older than 60 days, parents can wait a day or two to see if the fever breaks.

Dr. Eric Biondi, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and director of pediatric hospital medicine at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, told “Today” that the guidelines are for infants who “look otherwise good and just have a fever.”

He said fever can signal many conditions like a bad bacterial infection.

“For a long time, because of that, we’ve probably been over-diagnosing, over-treating, over-lumbar-puncturing and over-hospitalizing,” Biondi told “Today.”

It all depended on where the baby was treated.

“At one site, they might get a lumbar puncture, have invasive testing and get hospitalized. The same infant at another hospital might just get a few hours of observation in the emergency room,” he explained.

But he reminds that there will be some infants that will have to undergo all testing available, but not every baby will need that.

The new recommendations also have parents and doctors working with each other when it comes to making the treatment decisions.

Some parents will accept the risk of not testing while others will want to have their baby admitted to rule out illnesses, “Today” reported.

For more on the specifics of the guidelines, click here.