When you become a parent, you earn a medical merit badge of sorts. Whether you’re sopping up a goopy nose or extracting a dangling-by-a-thread baby tooth, eventually few things faze you. But sometimes it’s tough to tell what warrants a call to your doctor’s office: Which temperature actually classifies as a “high fever”? What kind of tummy ache means your child has more than your average stomach bug? And when something truly frightening happens — say, your child suddenly breaks out in hives — should you call your pediatrician or head straight to the E.R.?
“Parents should always err on the side of caution and seek immediate medical care when they’re worried about something,” says Anita Chandra-Puri, M.D., a pediatrician at Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group, in Chicago, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, to give you more specific guidelines to follow, we talked to top pediatricians about the 12 symptoms that always require medical attention.