Fever in Children

Content provided by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School

Fevers are very common in children. They are usually a sign that the body is trying to fight an infection.

The normal temperature of the body is 98.6F, or 37C. Your child's temperature may vary during the day and may increase a little when he's bundled up or very active. Generally, doctors say that there is a fever when the temperature is greater than or equal to 100.4F, or 38C.

Use a digital thermometer to take your child's temperature; never use a glass mercury thermometer. Most children aged  three years and older can hold a thermometer under their tongue. If your child is younger than that, or you're having difficulty with the oral method, talk to your doctor about the best way to take his temperature.

Use this guide if your child is over a year old. If he or she is younger than 12 months of age, visit our Fever in Infants guide.

The guide is designed to help you understand what may be the cause of your child's fever and the actions you should consider. Remember -- this guide is not meant to take the place of a call to or visit with your doctor. If your child has a chronic medical problem, such as sickle cell anemia, or is being treated for cancer or any other serious disease, you should absolutely call the doctor rather than using this guide.

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Medical Reviewer: Faculty of Harvard Medical School Last Annual Review Date: 2006-05-20T00:00:00-06:00


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