Making It Past Infant Years

In recent years, mothers and fathers have been more worried than ever about the health of their newborn babies. This newly found worry comes from the increased chances of a baby, that is less than 8 weeks old, for a fever with double the risks. For the average human, a fever will make you sweat, feel dehydrated, your muscles will ache, and you will have many headaches. This sounds very bad, but in fact, the symptoms for babies are nearly twice as bad. Babies are more prone to meningitis, or other infections in the urinary track. Researchers of this highly suggest parents to visit a professional if your baby that is less than 8 weeks old has a 100.4 degrees (F) fever.

Dr. Joshua Davis, an emergency medicine resident at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, says that “young infants have underdeveloped immune systems and are susceptible to infection, and those with serious bacterial infections can experience a rapid decline in their condition if they are not diagnosed within an appropriate amount of time.” In his most recent journal, the Journal of Emergency Medicine, he also says that the common misconception of fever height is not necessarily true. Fever height is only severe in young babies, not older kids. The reason for explaining this is that older kids’ bodies are more prone to fight off infections than younger babies are.

Davis next used data from the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network to study on infants with fevers. When he examined 4,821 infants with a recorded fever who had at least one blood culture completed, his results were very different than what he expected. The infants included had no record of prematurity, sepsis or recent antibiotic use, so that he could make his experiment reliable and accurate. After recording his data, Davis found out that serious bacterial infections occurred in 20.4 percent of infants with a fever, compared to 9.1 percent of infants with a lower temperature. The percent number of serious bacterial infections with a fever is very high, with 1/5 of kids with a fever having an infection. These infections can be fatal, so preventing this high fever from happening in infants is vital. Davis thinks that with this information, emergency rooms in the future will be less extensive, because we would not have to harm the infant with spinal or bloodwork taps to test for bacterial infections. Instead, we could simply look at the height of the temperature. Davis also thinks this information could be a lot more useful to parents, as parents would know to take their child to a doctor immediately after recording their baby with a high fever.

While the heights of the temperature still do matter in older kids, they do not matter nearly as much. As previously mentioned, older bodies can fight off infections much easier, due to the experience and aging of our body. In babies, the body is brand new, with brand new cells, not ready to fight off infection. This is the reason why it is so important to keep our babies safe in their infant years, as it could save their lives. Rushing an infant to the hospital after a high fever is just as important as preventing the fever from ever happening.

In the future, the world is hoping to have a better understanding of biology and the world around us, to maybe help with certain issues like this. With this future understanding, we can save many infants lives with treatment, and Davis is making a huge leap toward this hopeful goal, as many other researchers are too. Maybe with the inspiration of illness in infants, we can broaden our scope to larger illnesses that affect even more people in our world.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

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