Learning About Body Temperature Problems in Newborns

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What is body temperature?

Body temperature is a measure of how much heat the body makes. A normal body temperature is 37°C.

The body usually keeps its temperature within a safe range. But a newborn's body may not be able to do this for several days to weeks. This is more common with premature babies.

Is a high or low temperature a problem?

Often, a high or low temperature is not a problem. It may mean that your baby is getting used to life outside the womb.

But sometimes it can be a sign of a problem. Your baby may have an infection.

Other things can cause a high or low temperature:

  • A newborn may have a fever if the mother had a fever before she gave birth.
  • The baby may be wearing too many clothes. Or he or she may have too many blankets.

How is a high or low temperature treated?

Your doctor will watch your baby carefully to make sure the high or low temperature is not a problem. Your doctor will:

  • Check to see if your baby has an infection.
  • Check your baby's weight. This is to find out if your baby is getting enough to eat.
  • Take steps to treat your baby's temperature.
    • For a low temperature, your doctor may use an incubator or plastic hoods or blankets. Or he or she may ask a caregiver to hold the baby skin-to-skin. This is called kangaroo care.
    • For a high temperature, your doctor may tell you to take the covers off your baby. Or your doctor may give your baby acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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