New ER test for high-fever babies could avoid spinal tap, hospital stay

The last thing parents want is to let go of their baby.

But they might have to if they bring a feverish little one to a hospital emergency department. Protocol for babies younger than 2 months with a high fever (generally defined as a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher) requires a needle stick for blood work, a catheterization for a urine sample and, possibly, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap).

Then, the child could be hospitalized for up to 48 hours until the test results reveal whether the cause of the fever is a bacteria or a virus. Doctors take no chances with children younger than 2 months because a bacterial infection could mean deadly meningitis.

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