None not because they might have been infected with the coronavirus, but rather because they are likely to have a potentially life-threatening infection.
Typically, about 10% of newborns who have a fever have a potentially fatal infection; this percentage doubled to 20% during the study period, between March 2020 and March 2021.
“There has been a decrease in the transmission of viral infections, due to sanitary measures,” said study principal investigator Dr. Brett Burstein. With social distancing and everyone wearing a mask, there was almost no influenza, rhinoviruses, all the other viruses that we have that are circulating.
“So when a baby came to the emergency room with a fever, the proportion who had significant bacterial infections increased a lot.”
As the proportion of serious infections (such as bacterial meningitis, urinary tract infections and bacteremia) doubled, the number of visits to the Children’s emergency room for feverish infants under three months of age fell by two-thirds.
We know that, since the start of the pandemic, the population has avoided visiting emergency rooms for fear of the virus and out of a desire to make room for “really sick” people. At the Children’s, there was a 60% drop in emergency room visits.
Fever in a newborn baby under three months old is always a concern, Dr Burstein said.
“Newborns do not have a sufficiently developed immune system and they do not have the benefit of vaccines,” he explained. So we are already talking about a vulnerable population with regard to infections. ”
About 2% of all full-term babies will see a fever in their first few months of life, and in 90% of cases, it will be a mild problem that requires little complex care.
However, between March 2020 and March 2021, the proportion of feverish babies who suffered from meningitis or bacteremia (the presence of bacteria in the blood) jumped from 1% to 3.5%.
“This increase tells us that during the pandemic, during health measures, we must be especially careful with newborns who have a fever,” said Dr. Burstein. There is a decrease in the number of feverish babies, without a decrease in major infections. ”
The infections of greatest concern have not abated at all, he added. So when a baby has a fever during the pandemic and in the presence of sanitation measures, it will be more likely to be of concern than the normal viruses circulating. Even a urinary tract infection can turn into a serious health problem in babies quite quickly.
The message to parents and doctors is therefore very clear: we must be more careful than ever when faced with a baby who has a fever during this period of pandemic and health restrictions.
Especially since feverish babies can be particularly difficult to diagnose, since they “play a trick” on doctors by giving the impression that they are quite well, even if they are in reality very sick, recalled the. doctor Burstein.
“They look good until the last moment, everything starts to go wrong,” he said in conclusion.
The findings of this study were published by the medical journal JAMA Network Open.
On the Internet: jamanetwork.com