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Causes for a Low Grade Fever in a Child

author image Damiana Chiavolini
Damiana Chiavolini started writing in 2001. Her research and reviews have appeared in scientific journals, including "Infection and Immunity" and "Clinical Microbiology Reviews." Chiavolini holds a Ph.D. in biotechnology from the University of Siena, an M.S. in medical microbiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as well as a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of Leicester.
Causes for a Low Grade Fever in a Child
Low grade fevers may be induced by several factors. Photo Credit: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

A body temperature below 101 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.3 degrees Celsius in children is considered a low grade fever. This parameter is usually accurate when the temperature is measured with a rectal thermometer. A fever is the natural reaction of one's body to infection or inflammation and is usually a sign of a healthy immune system. Although a low grade fever is generally nothing serious, it is important to keep an eye out for any additional symptoms.

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Several infections may cause a low grade fever. These include viruses such as the common cold, rubella, adenoviruses and stomach viruses. Bacterial illnesses such as urinary tract infections, ear infections and sinusitis may also have a mild fever as one of the indicative signs. Make sure your child gets enough fluids, plenty of rest and treat symptoms as needed. If the infection is of bacterial origin, antibiotics may be prescribed by a doctor.


In their first year of life, children will be immunized against a number of agents responsible for potentially fatal diseases. These vaccines are formulations containing a killed or attenuated form of the agents causing the infection. They will not cause the actual disease but will induce an immune response that may trigger a low grade fever. If your child develops a fever, it should not last for more than a couple of days.

Other Causes

Low grade fevers may be associated with the teething process in a child, although researchers and doctors are not convinced about this link. When a tooth cuts, the gums may become swollen due to inflammation, leading to a temporary rise in body temperature. More rarely, low grade fevers may be the sign of severe illnesses, such as cancer and appendicitis. Sometimes heavy clothing or excess heat may also be causing a fever in a child.

What To Do

Fever reducers are usually not required to decrease a low grade fever unless your child appears to be uncomfortable or in pain. Contact your pediatrician if the low grade fever persists for more than a few days or if it is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, inconsolable crying or lethargy. Also contact your doctor if you have an infant younger than 3 months of age with a temperature higher than 100.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

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