Is a fever dangerous in pregnancy?

Fever and high temperature in pregnancy - does it pose a risk for you or your baby?

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In a nutshell

A really high fever (if your temperature is over 38C or 100.4F) could be dangerous

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The expert view

If you catch a cold or flu during pregnancy, you may end up with a raised temperature – and the usual treatment is lots of rest, plenty of water, and paracetamol.

“Prolonged high fever can have an effect on the developing baby and it also makes you feel unwell,” says MFM’s GP Dr Philippa Kaye. “You can try and bring down a fever by stripping off layers, tepid sponging and plenty of cold fluids but paracetamol is safe in pregnancy and can be used to bring down as fever as well as being used as a painkiller.” 

Risk to baby

Research back in 1998 found there was a slightly increased risk of neural tube defects in babies of mums-to-be who experienced a high fever of at least 38.9 celsius (102 Fahrenheit) for an extended period of at least 24 hours.

And a more recent study in 2012, from the US, found an association between untreated high fever and increased risk of autism and developmental delay.

But, the good news was that when mums had taken medication to bring down the fever, there was no increased risk.

Saunas, Jacuzzis and steam rooms

Although there is not much research around on the effects of using saunas, jacuzzis and steam rooms when you are pregnant, the NHS advises women to ‘avoid them because of the risks of overheating, dehydration and fainting’. 

Mums on our forum say  

“When I was earlier on in my pregnancy I caught a bug from my little boy. My Dr said it was better for the baby to take paracetamol regularly to keep my temperature down, rather than just have the temperature. I’m now 36+1 and our baby is fine.” Niblet

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“Been to the drs and can not take anything other than paracetamol for fever. He has prescribed me some co codamol though which contains paracetamol and is a good pain killer. Hopefully that will make me feel more comfortable. bonus is it can make u drowsy so I may actually get some sleep…Wooohooo!!” x_Glimmer_x

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