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Sick Newborn: Subtle Symptoms

A newborn is a baby less than 1 month old. He or she mainly eats, sleeps, cries a little, and needs a lot of love and his or her diapers changed frequently. If a newborn is ill, the symptoms can be subtle. Also, an ill newborn can very quickly get much sicker. If a newborn is sick at all, the illness can be serious.

When should I call my child's health care provider


  • Your baby is less than 1 month old and sick in any way (for example, with a cough or diarrhea or looks pale).
  • Your newborn's appetite or suck becomes poor.
  • Your newborn sleeps excessively--for instance, past feeding times.
  • Your newborn cries excessively.
  • Your newborn develops a fever over 100.4F (38C) measured rectally, or over 99F (37.2C) measured in the armpit. *
  • Your newborn's temperature drops below 96.8F (36C) measured rectally, or 95.4F (35.5C) measured in the armpit. *
  • You have other urgent questions.

* In general, do not take an infant's temperature unless he or she feels hot or looks sick.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2003-03-12
Last reviewed: 2006-03-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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