What are the complications of fever in infants and children?
Fever can cause uncomfortable symptoms (like shivering and achiness) and mild dehydration.3
In a small number of children, they can lead to febrile seizures, a harmless type of seizure that happens specifically in young children between the ages of 3 months and 5 years of age with fever.8
Opposite to what most people think, these complications are NOT harmful.1,2 Why?
- Fever does not actually raise the body’s temperature high enough to truly harm the body.1,7
- Even children who have serious febrile seizures fully recover and never experience another seizure again.10
In very rare cases, fever can be a sign of a more serious illness that could harm your child. Have your child checked by a doctor if your child’s fever is 40.5°C (104.9°F) or higher, your child is less than 6 months old, or your child experiences any of the signs listed under “When should I take my child to the doctor or the hospital?”
MYTH: Fevers can cause brain damage.
Many people think that a high fever can damage the brain and other organs. Although this can happen at very high body temperatures, the small rises in temperature brought on by fever (between 38.0°C to 41.0°C) do NOT cause damage.2,7,9
Febrile seizures are also harmless. Even though febrile seizures are very scary to witness, they have NOT been shown to affect brain function.8 Tests have shown that children who have had febrile seizures, both mild and serious, perform just as well in school as children who have not had febrile seizures.8,11
MYTH: A high fever increases the risk of febrile seizures.
Whether or not your child will have a febrile seizure depends more on the child and his or her unique risk to have a febrile seizure, rather than anything to do with the fever itself, such as how high the fever is or how long it lasts.11