Eliminate Fear, Not Fever

By Susan Markel, M.D.
for Pathways to Family Wellness
Summer 2009 Issue #22
Read more from Markel at her site, AttachmentParentingDoctor.com

As loving and caring parents, we naturally want to help our children feel better when the inevitable fevers, colds, and illnesses arise. Many of us will reach for popular over-the-counter remedies to suppress fever and alleviate symptoms, in the belief that these products are reliable. Yet, it is important to recognize that by suppressing fever, we are suppressing a critical immune response—one that has a necessary function in fighting illness.

I can attest to the enormous fear that fever provokes in parents. By far, the greatest number of after-hours telephone calls are questions regarding the “management” of fever with drugs. Undue attention to a child’s temperature and mishandling of fevers generate a great deal of unwarranted parental anxiety, avoidable medical complications, and countless calls and costly visits to doctors and emergency rooms. As long as we remain captive to the medical myth that nature made a mistake in causing a fever during illness, our children will be put at risk.

Yes, fever can be uncomfortable. A child with a high fever will often seem irritable, lethargic, glassy eyed, and listless. This alerts you that the body is mobilizing defense against disease and you, in turn, must care for your child in the most appropriate way: encouraging rest and fluids. On the other hand, there may be no reason to treat even a high fever if your child seems happy, active and alert.

The pervasive belief that fever is dangerous and must be suppressed disregards the scientific evidence demonstrating its beneficial role in inflammatory diseases. The immune system depends on the fever to accomplish myriad tasks when gearing up to fight infections.

“Fever phobia” is made worse by hearing myths about children being severely harmed by having a high fever. Many people know of children or adults who had a high fever and ended up with some sort of injury…brain damage or hearing loss. These problems are never caused by fever. The likely explanation is that they had a serious illness that gave them a fever, but it was the illness that caused the brain damage or other result. The fever was only the body’s attempt to fight the infection.

“Doctors do a great disservice to you and your child when they prescribe drugs to reduce fever,” writes Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, pediatrician and author of How to Raise a Healthy Child In Spite of Your Doctor. “Fever phobia is a disease of pediatricians, not parents, and to the extent that parents are victimized by it, doctors are at fault.” Parents are left to fear that their child’s temperature will keep rising unless measures are taken to control it. Yet, reducing the child’s temperature will do nothing to make the child well, and our bodies have a built-in mechanism that will prevent an infection-induced temperature from reaching dangerous levels. Mendelsohn emphasizes that “only in the case of heatstroke, poisoning, or other externally caused fevers is this body mechanism overwhelmed and inoperative.”

“Fever: Your Body’s Defense Against Disease” is the title of Chapter 7 in Dr. Mendelsohn’s book, an excellent resource for parents seeking a balanced and accurate perspective of the beneficial role of fevers in childhood. Dr. Mendelsohn condemns the useless and dangerous practice of fever suppression through drugs, and counters the myth that high fever causes seizures. “Many parents are fearful of fevers because they have witnessed a convulsive seizure and believe their child may experience one if the body temperature is allowed to rise too high. High fevers do not cause convulsions. They result when the temperature rises at an extremely rapid rate and are relatively uncommon.” Only a small percentage of children with high fever experience convulsions, and those who do suffer them do not have any aftereffects. Simple febrile seizures are self-limited and harmless, although they are one of the most frightening things that a parent can witness.

Dr. Mendelsohn continues, “Fevers produced by viral or bacterial infections will not cause brain damage or permanent physical harm. Fevers are a common symptom in children and are not an indication of serious illness unless associated with major changes in appearance and behavior or other additional symptoms such as respiratory difficulty, extreme listlessness, or loss of consciousness. The height of fever is not a measure of the severity of the illness.” A child who appears very ill with a fever of 101°F would be much more of a concern to me than a child who feels fine, is drinking and playing, but has a fever of 105°F.

Numerous studies have shown that fever enhances the immune response by disabling bacteria and viruses. Also, with a rise in temperature, iron is removed from the blood and stored in the liver, further disabling the rate at which bacteria can multiply.

As a note of caution, when a fever arises in a newborn in the first few weeks after birth, there is a heightened level of concern. “Newborn babies may suffer infections related to obstetrical interventions during delivery, ...aspiration pneumonia from amniotic fluid forced into the lungs because of overmedication of the mother during delivery...and exposure to the legion of germs that abound in the hospital itself,” writes Dr. Mendelsohn. Parents are advised to seek medical help if a baby runs a fever in the first two months after birth. As breastfeeding plays a critical role in preventing infections in infants, breastfed babies are superbly protected against a vast range of pathogens and have a lesser risk of developing fevers in the newborn phase.

Mistrust of natural processes and reliance on drug-oriented medicine has obscured parents’ understanding of the importance of childhood illnesses and the necessity of fever as a vital aspect of the immune system. When a child has a fever, it is not necessary to artificially lower the temperature. It is, however, important for the child to take in plenty of fluids, because in this time of elevated body temperature, it is easy to become dehydrated. Broth, liquid electrolytes, and fruit juices are great choices because they replace electrolytes that are used up in the fever process. Rest during times of fever will allow the body to use its energy to fight off infection.

Make a commitment to spend time with your sick child. Any time that you feel concerned about the way your child is acting, or if your instinct is that something is wrong, do not hesitate to call your doctor.

Susan Markel, M.D., is a board certified pediatrician and a board certified lactation consultant. On her website Attachment ParentingDoctor.com, she discusses topics related to pediatrics, relationships and lifestyle issues. While there is no such thing as perfect parenting, peace of mind is not as elusive as it often seems. Dr. Markel welcomes each opportunity to help families move forward with confidence.

Related Reading: 

Rehydration Recipe for a Vomiting Babyhttp://www.DrMomma.org/2010/11/rehydration-recipe-for-vomiting-baby.html

Baby Fever: When to give medication, and when not to (Mama Natural): https://www.mamanatural.com/baby-fever/

Studies show Tylenol NOT good to give after vaccination: http://www.DrMomma.org/2009/10/TylenolVaccine.html

CDC Vaccine Schedule: http://www.DrMomma.org/2011/01/cdc-mandatory-vaccine-schedule-1983-vs.html

Natural Immunity Building community: FB.com/groups/ImmunityBuilding

Take Charge of Your Child's Health (Dr. George Wootan, respected pediatrician, father of 11) https://amzn.to/2E06jhd

Except for times when your child is not comfortably able to sleep within reducing a fever, allowing a fever to spike in order to do its job will speed healing and recovery from an illness. 

Benefits of Fever
-fights infection
-slows bacterial and viral growth
-increases white blood cells
-increases acute phase response
-speeds recovery time
-protects the body
-does not cause harm

Natural Immunity Building Group

 Take Charge of Your Child's Health
Take Charge of Your Child's Health

✿ April Flowers Bring Milky Showers! ✿ A Spring Celebration of Breastfeeding ✿

Simply for fun, and to celebrate the springtime beauty that is our nursing little ones this season, we're kicking off this new milky showers album. So if you have a breastfeeding little bunny this Easter, or a sweet babe grabbing a snack amidst the daffodils, we invite you to send in your picture to be added. As always, milksharing and pumping photos more than welcome! The goodness of human milk for human babies extends far beyond the nourishing of our own, and reaches into the happy bellies of many babies who would otherwise be without, thanks to the mother-to-mother giving of this liquid gold. ❤ 

Email to: DrMomma.org@gmail.com
or upload to the Peaceful Parenting Facebook page.

Past seasonal albums: 


On the Ethics of Registered Nurses Assisting in Forced Infant Circumcision

Video Interview by James Loewen with Dolores Sangiuliano, RN
View Loewen's full channel and many stellar works at: www.YouTube.com/user/Bonobo3D

"I'm a registered nurse and we have an ethical code - the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses - and it states very clearly that we are charged with the duty to protect our vulnerable patients. If we are not protecting our vulnerable patients, then our licenses are not worth the paper that they are written on.

If anyone is vulnerable, it is a newborn baby - a child with no voice. And that is why I carry this sign: 'I will not do anything evil or malicious and I will not knowingly assist in malpractice.' Infant circumcision is malfeasance and malpractice and it is totally unethical.

Proxy consent is only valid for a procedure. In other words, parents can give consent for a procedure for their child - that's proxy consent - in a case of treatment or diagnosis, and circumcision is neither. You are not treating a disease and you are not trying to diagnose an illness."

Comment directly on this video at: http://youtu.be/Sgy8kZqANoE

No national medical organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision.


Yeast, Rash and Redness: Breastmilk Spurs Yeast Overgrowth, Neosporin Alters Microflora; What to Do Instead

By Danelle Day, Ph.D © 2014

The medicinal powers of human milk when used for a wide variety of ailments cannot be denied. Its antiviral and antibacterial properties are virtually unmatched, and in addition to being the one item perfectly designed to grow and sustain human beings for the first years of life, human milk is effective for use on everything from acne to pink eye, sunburn to stuffy noses - with components life-giving enough to ward off and even kill cancer cells.

This being said, the one area that human milk should not be used is on the irritated genitals of growing babies and children. The reason for this is due to the hearty sugar makeup of human milk - a component of our milk that is vital to healthy immune, organ and brain development. These sugars are complex and many in form, and they are made up of a wide variety (everything from those designed to help baby build the fatty tissues that s/he needs, to developing the myelin sheath around new neurons, to glyconutrients that allow cells in the body to communicate effectively and ensure robust immune function). These sugars play an essential role in human health and development - some in ways we are only beginning to understand in the 21st century.

Why, then, are substances with heavy sugar content not a good idea for genitals? The answer is YEAST. Yeast overgrowth is one of thee most common reasons for rashes and irritation in babies and children - especially during the diaper wearing days. Yeast feeds on sugars - in fact, it thrives on sugars - and does not differentiate between 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' sugars, it grows on all. So when human milk is placed on the genitals (whether intact or circumcised), it is nourishing yeast spores in the process. Additional redness, and a prolonged rash or irritation to the genitals, is common when a sugar-rich substance is used - leading all too often to unnecessary visits to the physician's office in follow-up. Even in cases where redness or rash is not due to yeast (rubbing, wetness, chemicals, detergent, soap/bubbles, forced retraction), it can quickly escalate to a multi-factoral rash with yeast in the mix, especially if human milk is used in treatment. In situations where antibiotics are medically justified for a rash (strep, staph and true/verified bacterial infections), yeast overgrowth is already a heightened possibility because of the antibiotics. Rather than add to the problem at hand, feed an abundance of human milk orally (probiotics are also a strong component of this milk, balancing out antibiotic use when they are necessary), and allow healing to take place.

Redness on the bum, foreskin, and labia are common (again, especially during the diaper days), and redness is not a thing to be feared. Everything from rubbing to wetness to yeast spores cause redness, but when these rashes appear, the best ointment to reach for is Calmoseptine -- not human milk. Calmoseptine is an ointment originally designed for use on the genitals of developing babies and children, and while it will soothe, calm and help the body heal quickly, it does not interfere with normal pH or healthy microflora of the genitals (something that is vital to skin health). Calmoseptine is available virtually world-wide upon request at your local pharmacy. If it is not in stock, the ointment can be requested and usually received overnight. The effectiveness of Calmoseptine is the reason we currently include it (freely given away) as a part of all Peaceful Parenting and Saving Our Sons baby and maternity expos, and include samples with all Intact Info Packs shipped to expecting parents.

Many poorly informed clinicians today have also advised parents to apply a topical antibiotic like Neosporin to the genitals in cases of redness. However, this is also a counterproductive measure. Most redness is not due to bacterial causes (again, most is due to rubbing, wetness, chemical reactions - detergent/soap/bubbles/chlorine/disposable diapers - yeast overgrowth, or forced retraction). Because of this, treating with a topical antibiotic is not a logical or beneficial measure. Even in cases where there is a true bacterial cause (staph and strep being two of the most common on the genitals) that justifies antibiotics, their use needs to be oral (not topical) to effectively treat the problem at hand. Applying topical antibiotics does nothing more than disrupt healthy microflora and pH - further exacerbating the problem, and rarely eradicating the origin of the rash. Skip the Neosporin and use Calmoseptine for redness and irritation.

What if a yeast rash is already present? 

If your baby or child has bright red spots on his bum/genitals, it is likely that yeast is the culprit. In this case, and to be certain it is yeast versus mere irritation, we would suggest first using Calmoseptine alone for 8-24 hours. Apply the cream liberally over the outside of the genitals/bum, being certain not to retract an intact child in any fashion (i.e. do not push back the foreskin or clitoral hood in any way). Even if your son has a red/inflamed foreskin, do not attempt to push cream or any substance into his foreskin. Calmoseptine will work its own way in as needed. Apply to the outside of the penis and scrotum only, as you would cover a finger.

If redness and irritation is gone within 24 hours post Calmoseptine use, you will know that this was a case of irritation that led to inflammation and redness. If you still see bright red spots, you can assume that it is yeast. In this case, apply a coat of Lotrimin (that can be purchased in the fungal section of any major store or pharmacy, or generic store brand with the same active ingredient - clotrimazole) to clean, dry skin. Again, be sure to cover all red areas without manipulating, messing with, or pushing back the prepuce (foreskin/clitoral hood) in any manner. After this coat of Lotrimin, apply a layer of Calmoseptine on top of it. Redness should be reduced within 8-12 hours and gone within 24-72 hours. Reapply with each diaper change.

Images for medical education purposes only. Peaceful Parenting takes a strong position against any form of aggression or violence against children and babies.

If you typically use cloth diapers, you may wish to use disposables during this 'treatment' phase. Another option is to use Shout and double rinse to remove these ointments from your diapers. Should you find that redness and irritation is common with your baby, it could be due to the detergent you use (switch to a natural brand such as BioKleen) and always double rinse diapers post-washing. Or, it could be that your baby is sensitive to any wetness on his/her bum (very common). In this case, making a switch to pocket diapers that wick away moisture is the best move to continue cloth diapering. If you are a parent preemptively reading and planning to cloth diaper, you may wish to take this into consideration when making cloth purchases. Pocket diapers are often much better for babies' sensitive and developing genitals as they do not leave baby's skin in contact with wetness.

No matter your diaper choices, treating redness/irritation with Calmoseptine, and yeast with Lotrimin/Calmoseptine is a significantly less invasive (and more effective) measure than unnecessary trips to the doctor's office, or adding to the problems at hand with 'treatments' that do not work and often lead to further complications of rash and redness. Only in situations where a baby's rash responds to neither Calmoseptine or Lotrimin over the course of 48-72 hours will you know that a physician's visit is justified to rule out bacterial culprits.

The Kind Mama: Alicia Silverstone on Circumcision

Excerpt from Alicia Silverstone's latest book, The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning, available online and in bookstores April 15. Learn more from Silverstone at her website, TheKindLife.com

One day, I was wondering out loud to Christopher whether we should circumcise our baby if we had a boy. My instinct was that it just didn't feel right, while Christopher was more curious about whether not circumcising would mean our kid would feel different. We both decided to give it some thought and maybe let the universe speak its piece. One day, Christopher was out running errands, and in a shop he came across a group of cute girls. Risking looking like a total perv, he asked if any of them had had sex with a guy who was uncut. "Yeah," one said. "And how was it?" "Best sex of my life." Score one for no circumcision.

Then we were at a pediatrician meet-and-greet, and the doctor spoke about how unhealthy he felt circumcision was - that it made the penis shorter, that it was more painful, and that it was basically deemed unnecessary in the medical community. Hmm.

After that, I was hanging out with a friend and her son at the pool, and I noticed he wasn't circumcised. "Is that an undone penis?" I asked. "Yeah," she said. So I asked, "Has it ever been an issue that his penis was different than his dad's?" "His penis wouldn't match his dad's anyway!" she said. "His dad's is so much bigger and has hair all over it. And by the time they do look more alike, they're not going to be side-by-side comparing." Good point.

Then Bear was born. I was raised Jewish, so the second my parents found out they had a male grandchild, they wanted to know when we'd be having a bris (the circumcision ceremony traditionally performed 8 days after a baby boy is born). When I said we weren't having one, my dad got a bit worked up. He couldn't understand why not - I mean, it's what our people have been doing for a really long time. Then he started listing reasons for doing it, like uncircumcised penises were hard to keep clean and can get infected, and that it doesn't hurt the baby - although I'm pretty sure most babies scream and cry at their bris. But my thinking was: If little boys were supposed to have their penises 'fixed,' did that mean we were saying that God made the body imperfect? He made all this incredible stuff, and then he just happened to make the penis wrong?

When Christopher, Bear and I were over at our friend's house hanging out in the pool, I started talking about my dad's not-so-happy reaction about Bear not being cut. And I told them about my dad's concern that Bear wouldn't fit in; that he worried about other kids giving Bear a hard time because he looked different. As if on cue, the four other moms there lifted their naked little babies out of the pool - not one was circumcised.

We're in a new world! According to a 2010 analysis from the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of newborn boys who are circumcised in this country dropped to 58.3 percent from 64.5 percent in 1979. (1) All those old ideas about why not to do it are totally outdated. A recent review by the American Academy of Pediatrics looked at the data from the past decades to see if there were really, truly any medical benefits to circumcision. Their conclusion? Nope! (2) And according to baby doctor genius and father of eight, Dr. William Sears, not only are there no medical benefits to circumcision, there are actually some pretty weighty drawbacks. The foreskin is packed with nerves (more than any other organ, actually), and removing it can diminish sexual pleasure. It helps protect the head of the penis, which, while also super-sensitive, was meant to be an internal organ. When it is exposed and is constantly rubbing up against clothing, it can become desensitized, which is also bad news when your son starts getting frisky. (3)

Then there are the risks associated with what it is, in truth, a minor surgery: hemorrhage, infection, septicemia, gangrene, disfigurement, or, if too much foreskin is removed, the need for skin grafting later in life. (4)

In case you're still not convinced that you wouldn't be committing your child to a life of bad Hebraic karma, consider that in Israel more and more parents are opting to celebrate the first week in their baby's life with a brit shalom (the "covenant of peace"), a ritual alternative to circumcision. (5)


1. Nicholas Bakalar, "US Circumcision Rates Are Declining," New York Times, August 22, 2013, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/u-s-circumcision-rates-are-declining.

2. William Sears, M.D., "Dr. Sears Statement on Circumcision," Peaceful Parenting, October 27, 2009, http://www.drmomma.org/2009/10/dr-sears-statement-on-circumcision.html.

3. Ibid.

4. England and Horowitz, Birthing From Within, 188.

5. "Incisive Arguments," Economist, July 7, 2012, 51.

Read more from Alicia Silverstone in her new book, The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning and at her website: TheKindLife.com 



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