Evaluation of the necessity for hospitalization of the febrile infant less than three months of age

Glenn M. Wasserman, Christopher B. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


We reviewed records of 443 consecutive infants less than 3 months of age who were hospitalized during a 28–month period for complete evaluation of fever (rectal temperature ≥ 38°), close observation and consideration of antimicrobial therapy. Infants less than 2 weeks of age were more likely to be treated with parenterally administered antibiotics than older infants (67%, 39%, 29% and 31% in the first and second two weeks of life, second and third months, respectively), and were more likely to have bacteremia and bacterial meningitis (4.8%, 2.1%, 0.5% and 2.3%, respectively), as well as serious bacterial illness (25%, 13%, 7% and 14%, respectively). Five infants (2.5% of those not initially treated) had unexpectedly positive blood (1), urine (3) or stool (1) cultures and were treated with parenteral antibiotics when culture results were known. None was less than 2 weeks of age and all had good outcomes that did not appear to be altered by the delay in diagnosis and treatment. No infant's therapy was modified as a result of clinical deterioration or persistent fever. We conclude that many febrile infants who are hospitalized “for observation” can be managed as outpatients provided that a thorough initial evaluation is performed, that parents can reliably monitor the infant closely at home and that dependable follow-up can be assured.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-169
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1990


  • Hospitalization
  • febrile infants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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