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Your Baby Week Twenty


Updated June 09, 2014

4 of 7

Red Flag Symptoms
Certain red flag symptoms may send you to the emergency room with your baby.

Certain red flag symptoms may send you to the emergency room with your baby.

Photo © David H. Lewis

When your child gets sick, like with a runny nose, cough, or fever, how do you know when it is a simple viral infection or something more serious?

Which symptoms should you worry about?


Most parents worry about fever, but how high a fever is doesn't necessarily tell you how sick your child is. A child can have a temperature of 102 or 103 F with a cold or other viral infection, but may still be eating and drinking and sleeping well and may not be very sick. On the other hand, a child can be deathly ill and may not have a fever at all.

So instead of worrying over the actual temperature, consider your child's other symptoms when she has a fever. Symptoms might include trouble breathing, being lethargic, being overly fussy and hard to console, or skipping feedings. A fever can also be worrisome if it is hard to control, like if it doesn't come down at all after giving your child a fever reducer, such as Tylenol.

Also, you should usually call your pediatrician or seek medical attention if your infant that is:

  • three to six months old has a temp at or above 101 F (38.3 C)
  • six to twelve months old has a temp at or above 103 F (39.4 C)

Red Flag Symptoms

Other symptoms that should raise a red flag and that your child might need immediate medical attention include:

  • bilious (dark green) vomiting, a sign of an intestinal blockage
  • bloody diarrhea
  • fast breathing
  • a constant cough, so that your child can barely take a breath between coughs
  • vomiting or diarrhea that leads to dehydration
  • being lethargic or difficult to wake up
  • seizures
  • a bulging fontanel (soft spot)
  • a non-blanching (doesn't briefly go away when you press on it) skin rash

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