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Can a high fever cause brain damage?

Parents often worry about this, but brain damage from a fever is extremely unlikely. It's not unusual for a sick toddler to run a temperature of 104 or even 105 degrees F. Although fevers over 106 degrees are very unusual, unless a child is trapped in a hot place or overdressed, most children can tolerate a temperature of slightly greater than 107 degrees F without long-term effects from the fever itself.

Ask the doctor what her guidelines are for phoning. She may suggest calling whenever your toddler's fever reaches 103 degrees F (39.4 degrees C) or higher.

The most important thing is how ill your child looks and acts. Tell the doctor about other symptoms when you call. She may have you bring him into the office to be checked, or she may give you instructions for bringing the fever down.

Some children between 6 months and 5 years of age have brief seizures when they're running a high fever, but even these febrile seizures don't cause brain damage.

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