Common Misconceptions About Childhood IllnessesMyth #1: Fever causes brain damage
In the course of my work, fever and its perceived complication of brain damage has to be the most common worry I encounter. There is no cut-off temperature above which the brain will sustain brain damage. The severity of fever does not necessarily correlate with the severity of the illness either. Fever is a natural response of the body’s immunity to fight off infections. Some infections have a higher propensity to cause higher fever than others.

High fever itself does not usually cause brain damage per se, unless the fever is caused by meningitis or encephalitis (i.e. infection of the brain lining or brain matter) or in the rare instance of hyperthermia or heat stroke. High fever may certainly cause ‘fever fits’ or febrile seizures although these usually do not result in long-term complications unless prolonged for more than 20 minutes.

In any febrile illness, what would be more important for the parent to observe are the child’s overall level of activity, appetite, frequency of urination and whether the child has any breathing difficulty.

Myth #2: Teething causes fever and/or diarrhea
Parents often attribute many symptoms to the process of teething. Teething may give rise to the child having a low-grade temperature, frequent biting, decreased feeding and even irritability. However, the process does not cause actual fever, diarrhea or cough or runny nose and in most instances, actually causes minimal symptoms.

Myth #3: Vaccinations cause autism
This controversy stems largely from the 1998 publication of a medical paper that there was a possible link between autism and the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The research paper was subsequently discredited as being improperly conducted and even described as fraudulent. Subsequently, multiple large epidemiological studies have been done and all have shown no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Dr Kenneth Chua

By Dr Kenneth Chua

Practice Address:
SBCC Baby & Child Clinic
Blk 805 Hougang Central, #01-112
Singapore 530805
Tel: 6386 3688


This article was first published in The New Age Parents Aug / Sep 2013 e-magazine

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