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As parents, you try your best to provide care and warmth to your baby. However, sometimes despite your best efforts, your baby’s temperature may drop below than normal levels. Well, you may be aware that higher body temperature is indicative of fever; however, many parents do not know that lower body temperature in babies is also indicative of some underlying medical condition. If you want to know more on low body temperature in babies, its causes, symptoms and what you should do, then it will be a great idea to go through the following article.
What Happens if Your Baby has Low Body Temperature?
As surprising as it may sound, in spite of much lower weight than adults, babies have three times more surface area, and therefore they can easily lose their body heat in comparison to adults. And this condition may get worse in babies who are born preterm as they do not have enough fat reserves to keep them warm.
In case your baby has a low body temperature, your baby’s body has to work extra to regulate his body temperature. This makes your baby use more oxygen and also the energy reserve, which is required to perform other bodily functions as well.
The constant lower temperature not only makes it difficult for your baby in getting better from any kind of ailment but it also increases your baby’s risk of hypothermia.
What are the Causes of Low Temperature in Babies?
If your baby has a low body temperature, then it may make you wonder, why it is there, what must have caused it and many such questions. Here are some common causes of low temperature in babies that may help you understand better:
Babies are more susceptible to catching infections because their immune systems are not well developed, and the risk may further increase for the preterm or premature babies. There are many kinds of infections such as meningitis or sepsis, which may drop your baby’s body temperatures. Such infections may cause life-threatening conditions and thus require immediate medical intervention.
2. Cold Environment Conditions
If your baby’s surroundings are cold due to the environmental conditions or too much exposure to air conditioning, this may make your baby’s temperature to drop. It is very important to keep your baby warm and cosy to avoid the risk of hypothermia.
It is seen that sometimes due to certain kind of deficiencies like low iron, iodine or other such nutrients may cause your baby’s temperature to drop. If you notice that your baby’s temperature remains low for a few days, you should seek medical advice.
4. Low Birth Weight Babies and Premature Babies
Babies who have 1.5 kilograms or lesser birth weight and babies who are born at 28 weeks or earlier than that are at a greater risk of hypothermia, soon after they are born. Your baby may be put in neonatal care unit for a few weeks or till his body is strong enough to support itself.
Apart from the above-mentioned causes, there are various other reasons that may cause low body temperature in babies, such as Hypoglycaemia, Neurological Disorders, Metabolic or Endocrine diseases.
Symptoms of Low Temperature in Babies
Your baby’s symptoms may vary as per the type of hypothermia your baby has. Following are some of the symptoms of mild, moderate and severe hypothermia:
Symptoms of mild hypothermia
- Your baby may be cold to touch.
- Your baby may have lower energy levels.
- Your baby’s skin may appear discoloured or reddish.
- Your baby may feed poorly.
- Your baby may feel dizzy and may shiver too.
- Your baby may develop hypoxia.
Symptoms of moderate hypothermia
- Your baby may experience difficulty in moving.
- Your baby may experience excessive and uncontrolled shivering.
- Your baby may find it difficult to babble or make sounds.
Symptoms of severe hypothermia
- Your baby’s pupils may dilate.
- Your baby may lose his consciousness.
- Your baby’s activity may decrease considerably.
- Your baby’s heartbeat may be below 60.
- Your baby may lose weight.
- Your baby’s pulse may become faint and difficult to detect sometimes.
- Your baby’s ECG reading may be abnormal
It does not matter whether your baby is experiencing milder or severe level of hypothermia, if you establish any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you should seek immediate medical help.
How to Deal with Low Body Temperature in Infants?
You can deal with your baby’s low body temperatures by:
1. Room Temperature
It is often seen that room temperatures may be the culprit of your baby’s low body temperatures. Though babies can regulate their body temperatures but not the ways adults can do it. Therefore, it is important that you maintain comfortable room temperatures both in winter and summer months.
2. Bath Water
Newborn babies usually do not require a tub bath and fine with sponge baths with warm water. However, if you wish to bathe your baby, wait until the umbilical cord heals. It is suggested that bath water should neither be too cold or hot. Make sure you check the water before you start bathing your baby. Do not let your baby spend too much time in the water and wrap your baby immediately after bathing.
3. Swaddling The Baby
Many parents swear by swaddling to keep their babies warm and comforted as it mimics the feeling of being in the mother’s womb. It is a great way of keeping your baby warm in summers when the AC is on and also in winters when the temperatures are low outside. However, make sure you do not keep your baby swaddled up beyond 4 to 5 months of age.
4. Skin To Skin Contact
Most hospitals would keep the baby on mother’s chest soon after birth as it helps in building the mother-baby bond. However, it is also a great way of providing warmth and care to your preterm baby. Kangaroo care is a way of giving close body contact and heat to your premature baby and thus helps in regulating the baby’s temperature.
5. Keep Monitoring Your Baby’s Temperature
It is suggested that you keep monitoring your baby’s temperature on a regular basis. This way you will be able to register any change in your baby’s temperature, and thus you can take immediate action. A digital thermometer is a good option for maintaining your baby’s temperature. You may measure your baby’s temperature before and after taking a bath or when you expose your baby to an air-conditioned environment.
When to Visit a Doctor?
Low body temperature is not good for your baby; however, if your baby’s temperature drops below than 32 degrees, this is indicative of severe hypothermia and thus requires immediate medical attention. As soon as you register such low temperature in your baby, you should get in touch with your doctor, and your baby may be given emergency care. This may cause life-threatening complications, organ failure and other fatal problems in babies.
No matter whether you register baby temperature low at night or anytime during the day, you must seek medical help. This is because sometimes temperature measured from the armpit may not be accurate and rectal temperature may need to be taken, which is best done under medical supervision at a hospital.
Though sometimes certain preventive measures may work, however, it is suggested that when it comes to babies, always seek your doctor’s advice. Timely medical intervention may save your baby from various life-threatening conditions.