There's nothing new parents dread quite so much as the teething stage. There's the drooling, the gagging, the teething rash, the night wakings, the fever...
But wait a minute on that last part. Researchers who analyzed studies from eight different countries found that while this physical milestone can, in fact, make babies (and their parents!) miserable, teething usually won't cause a fever.
The study, published in the March 2016 issue of Pediatrics, examined the commonly held belief that teething causes fever in babies and young children, as well as other symptoms of illness. Here's what they discovered: Using data collected from 10 major studies, the researchers found that gum irritation, irritability, and drooling were the most frequent symptoms of teething in infants and toddlers. They also found that symptoms of teething tended to peak during the emergence of a child's primary incisors or front teeth, which can occur between 6 and 16 months of age, and decreased as the child got older.
But while a slight rise in body temperature was another common symptom, it was most often not high enough to actually be considered a fever. According to the authors of the study, this distinction is important because if a child develops a true fever (higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), assuming that the cause is teething may lead doctors or parents to miss possible illness or infection that requires treatment.
This means if your little one does develop a temperature lower than 101 degrees while he's cutting a tooth, it's probably not a cause for concern. But if it's higher than 101 or accompanied by any other symptoms of illness, you may want to call your pediatrician.