50 answers

Spinal Tap

I took my baby girl (5 weeks old) to the ER for a 101 temp. They did blood work and took urine did chest xrays and generally poked and prodded her something terrible. Her blood and urine came out fine and her chest xrays showed she might have a little of a viral infection, but the weren't positive because they said xrays at her age aren't great. Anyway they then suggested a spinal tap to check for an infection there. They said babies of her age harbor infections there and aside from a fever they don't really show more signs. I said heck no in the ER, and I supposed to go in for an appointment today so they can reevaluate. Does anyone have experience with this? The Dr the talked to me said that it doesn't hurt them any more than a shot or blood draw, but I know how bad getting an epidural felt in my back. Should I do it? Or wait it out? I have a three year-old too and well, I am completely in shambles. The Dr made it sound as if I didn't do it I was going to sign my baby up to die or something . . . but a spinal tap? That seems terrible! HELP!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone who responded to my request, I really appreciate all the support. Well we went and saw the pediatrician on Wednesday afternoon and he suggested we watch her further and monitor her fever and if it spiked high again then we would need to bring her in to have the spinal tap done because he felt it would be better to be safe than sorry later. After reading a bit online and reading all of your wonderful responses I felt a bit better about. About 4 a.m. Thursday morning her fever spiked again so we were admitted to the hospital to have the procedure done. I think it was worse dealing with the fact that they needed to get an IV started because she was dehydrated due to not eating enough. So we spent Thursday night and most of Friday in the hospital and they let us go home last night. Her fever broke and she was doing much better with some fluids in her. All of the cultures have been negative thank goodness, it was still sad that she had to have all that crap done to her at only 5 weeks old. I was a serious wreck most of the week, but I am so thankful that she is better.
Thanks to everyone who responded, I appreciate the support!

Featured Answers

Hi T.:
My 3 year old had to have a spinal tap a couple of months ago. I was really scared but I had to find out what was wrong with her and it wasn't really that big of a deal for her, but my neighbor had one she's is 36 and she said it was horrible. But the hospital said it's not as bad on kids as it is for adults she had a really bad headache and had to lay down for a couple of days. My daughter was already laying around and sick so I didn't notice any difference if she had any problems with it. It's hard to know but it was fast and she didn't freak out.

Hi, I think I would put a lot more trust in a doctor than in a bunch a people you've never met on line. I would seek a specialists opinion.

My sister had a spinal tap when she was 6.5 months old and although it was painful, it did end up saving her life because she did have spinal meningitis.

More Answers

It doesn't hurt?! Wow, I can't believe they said that. My daughter had a spinal tap when she was one year old and that was a heart wrenching experience. The child is not allowed to move during a spinal tap, for obvious reasons. It took a total of 5 adults to keep my daughter in place. It was bad enough she was scared of the situation and all of these people holding her down, but then the pain of the tap. They had to poke her twice. Afterwards, she had handprints embedded all over her body. Granted, as soon as she was in my arms she calmed down, but it was a hard thing for me to witness and even worse for her to go through. I understand the reason for the test, they wanted to make sure she did not have meningitis. Hopefully you will not have to experience this. But if you do, be positive, supportive and be prepared to give your baby lots of loving afterwards. The only positive thing I can think of is that your baby is young enough not to remember the spinal tap. Unfortunately, my daughter developed a fear of needles.

My daughter had the same experience at 6 weeks old. I did not think to question the ER when they suggested a spinal tap after the battery of test they had run because I was exhausted. It turns out she had spinal meningitis and we ended up in the hospital for a few days so they could monitor her progress and keep her on antibiotics. In the end everything turned out fine - it was viral and not bacterial which is a better prognosis. I was asked to leave the room when they performed the spinal tap, so it probably is more stressful for the mom than the baby. When I returned (about 10 minutes) my daughter wss fussy, but not out of control. She is now 11 and I am sure she doesn't remember a thing.

I worked in an emergency room for 5 years and previously worked in the NICU. It's okay if you don't have the spinal tap done in the ER. Watch your baby and check her temp, you can also give her Tylenol. Make sure you call your pediatrician, that's what they are there for. If your pediatrician agrees and says she needs the spinal tap, then go for it. It really doesn't hurt babies that much. Go with your gut instinct, mother's intuition is usually right. Good luck!

Get a second opinion !!!!!! Good luck.

my daughter was in the NICU. she had to have a spinal tap. it was pretty common and a lot of babies in their did get infections just like what he said, but if your not comfortable get a second opinion. It wouldn't hurt to ask another doctor. whatever you decide you need to be okay with whatever may happen on the end. If your daughter has maintained this high fever for a while a couple of days I would say somethings up and get it done!

Hi T.,
While the risk of meningitis might make having the test a wise option, that Er doctor is full of it. Spinal taps are very painful and can be dangerous if the little one moves around much. I know this from personal expirience on me and on my duaghter. If you decide to go ahead with it tell them you'll only do it if the give the little one a mild sedative to put her out first. I was lucky with my little one, having been through it myself I knew what it was, and the nurse agreed with me readily.

dear T.,
Hi, I have had about three spinal taps and yes they are uncomfortable, but they really dont hurt. I would say if your child still has the fever it may be worth it, but if the fever is gone i wouldnt bother, they are very exspensive.

They are probably worried that she has menengitis, which si VERY serious. It is also very contagious, so your other child (or you or your husband) could get it too. I would let them do the tap. Good luck~ I hope she feels better soon!!!

My second daughter was a preemie and they asked me about doing a spinal tap on her I let them and there was no ill effects at the time and she has been fine ever since she is now a lovely 9 yr old

I would also get a second opinion from your pediatrician, but if your doc also recommends it, I would do it if it were my child. I agree with the others that your daughter won't remember anything about the needle stick, but if it does catch something serious, it will be well worth it. Given that a spinal tap is pretty serious, I'm assuming they saw something that indicated to them that it was necessary.

I tend to err on the side of caution - much better to do the test and have it come back negative then have it be something serious that wasn't caught.

Hi T. - When my daughter was less than 2 weeks old she developed a terribly high fever and was near death. When I took her to the hospital, they gave her a spinal tap. It was the only real way they could eliminate the possibility of certain problems. She stayed some time in the hospital until the fever broke. The spinal tap did her absolutely no harm, but ignoring a possibly difficult condition could have ended a beautiful life.
Love to you and your sweet daughter,

I'm with you. I would have said no also. If there was a more solid reason to want a spinal tap, then maybe. I would talk with your ped. and see what the reasoning is in wanting such a dramatic test, then go from there! Good Luck!

T., I work in a reference lab (we send tests all over the country for our clients) and there is nothing harder for us to see than spinal tap tests on babies or little kids. I agree with the other responses that it is a very drastic step for the ER to take that quickly. A second opinion from your pediatrician would probably help set your mind at ease. There are a lot of scary things out there that can only be detected from doing a spinal tap, but at the same time there are also a lot of viruses that will cause a fever and then clear up on their own. While your baby may not have any long-term reaction or remember the spinal tap, it would be very difficult to go through as a parent. For sure look at all of your baby's symptoms and how long they have lasted, and take your pediatrician's advice to heart as well before you make a decision. Please let us know what happens and how your little one is doing! You are definitely in all of our hearts!

Hi T.,

Sorry to hear your little one is ill. When I read your letter, I have to say I am just stunned that the doctor even suggested a spinal tap! All because of a 101 degree fever? Does the baby have other symptoms that suggest a more serious infection? I don't care what anyone says, a spinal tap at ANY age is NOT fun! If I were you, hon, I would RUN not walk to a second and even a THIRD opinion! I just can't believe they'd want to do that! Please let us all know how things work out! Good luck, you're in my prayers!

A 101 degree fever is not considered a high fever. I cannot understand what your doctor was thinking unless there were other distressing symptoms that might suggest spinal menengitis. Ask your MD if this is the case. I he/she does not give you a reasonable answer, thank the doc for his time, and get another pediatrician immediately.

Generally, children are not considered to need any medical intervention at all--much less a spinal tap--if the fever is below 102 degrees. A spinal tap is not standard procedure for the fever you are describing, and I really think you did the right thing.

Dear T.,
If your baby's temp doesn't resolve, then I would get a second opinion quickly. Realize that a temp of 101 is not as concerning as her behavior, such as lethargy- refusing to eat, limp, won't wake for you, or piercing cry.

Look at her critically and see how she is acting as well as have her evaluated.

A spinal tap shouldn't be harmful to her, but a second opinion is so valuable.

I have had many a temp in my children and usually they resolve in a day or two. Make sure she is well hydrated. Dehydration itself will raise the temperature.

If the fever is a "normal" virus she is fighting, you can give her a pedialyte enema- very gently use a bulb syringe (those things you get to suck out their nose) and introduce pedialyte at room temperature into her anus (oil it first with some olive oil) . Giver her a small amount at a time, 1 oz= 1/8 cup. She will absorb the fluid and nutrients into her system if she is dehydrated- it may help if it gets critical. Be sure you nurse her as often as possible, if you are nursing. Don't give her a cool bath. You can, however give her a warm bath and as you dry her she will cool- don't over dress her. If you cool her too fast she can have the opposite reaction of spiking a fever to compensate for cooling too much- (that's why you never give a cool bath).

My pediatrician yelled at me for calling him about a fever that was about that high in my first baby. It's just something you will learn to monitor, but at first it can be very concerning.
Have they checked her ears?
Also for a spinal meningitis,viral or bacterial the infant/child will arch their backs and hold their heads erect.- It would be good to check it early if that is suspected.
Your baby sounds like she is going through something that is normal- but always check it out when you are concerned. Moms know their children- if you don't get the answers you want, then be persistent.
I do believe in the power of prayer, not only for your little daughter, but for your and your husband's discernment to know what to do and if it is serious.

God Bless,
H. B. mom (mother of many-9)

I would say that if the ER doctor thinks there is a good enough reason to do a spinal tap, then you should probably have it done, although I would also recommend getting a second opinion from your pediatrician. I used to be a NICU nurse, and have assisted with a lot of spinal taps on babies, and it's not really that bad in my opinion. (Of course, when anything is done on your own baby it's entirely different!) There is a medication called EMLA cream that can be applied to your baby's back before they insert the needle that helps to numb the area. As long as they are able to keep the baby still and get the fluid they need, the procedure is usually pretty quick. In my experience, most of the babies tolerated it very well. Hope this helps, and hope your baby feels better soon.

The spinal tap is to rule out meningitis, and is a common test done on babies who present with suspicious symptoms. If your baby had meningitis, it could be fatal; that's why they sound so pushy about it with you. You should call your pediatrician and discuss this with her/him. It's a very easy test, but because the baby has to be held perfectly still, they will generally bind her up so that she's in a curled position and won't be able to move. That's probably what scares kids the most...the spinal tap is done much higher in the back than an epidural. When my son was a baby, they did the spinal tap in the doc's office...maybe if you google 'pediatric meningitis' you'll have a better idea of what and why the doc's do that test. Good luck!

That sounds extremley drastic to me for just a possible viral infection. Viral infections have run rampant this year and are very common. If your child's symptoms have cleared up I would say not to worry about it, just do a simple follow up. If the symptoms haven't cleared talk to your doctor about possible other diagnosis. Good luck!

My daughter had to have a spinal tap at 2 days old. I had to trust in the medical training of those who suggested it. She's a healthy 2 year old now. Trust your doctor. The risk is very low and your daughter will not remember the pain. If she's is seriously ill and you refuse the test, you'll never forgive yourself. Trust your mom heart. God gave us mother instincts for a reason!! I'll pray for you!


spinal tap is an extreme:
unless absolutely necessary, no!
when this thing goes wrong, the person can end up an invalid, disabled for a lifetime, in a wheelchair or whatever worse.

I did not quite understand what are the symptoms that your baby is not feeling good,
but be really careful with spinal tap: all the nerves come together in clusters there,
if they miss and hit the nerve cluster, here comes trouble,
and much incurable...

All the best to you, praying for your little one! M.

Hi T.,
I am a Home Health nurse and I worked in the emergency room for a little over a year. After working there I decided that spinal taps have a reutation they don't deserve. It's a procedure I assisted with many times and I never saw anyone suffer much from it. The doctor usually does something to numb the area first. The big deal about it from my experience is that there's a small margin for error, meaning if the doctor makes a mistake, it could cause harm. So if I were you I would make sure that whomever does this procedure on your child, does this procedure fairly often. Experience is everything. Maybe you'd feel more comfortable with a pediatric hospital than a regular emergency room. That way you know they have done this procedure often with small babies.

Hi T.,
I am a pediatric nurse and see tons of babies go through this. I would have probably reacted the same way as you did if I were you. It is so hard to see our children go through these things. My suggestion would be that if your daughter is still showing signs of illness(fever, not eating, excessive lethargy, or irritability) than I would get the test done as soon as possible. If she seems well, then count yourself lucky. She probably had a virus that has run its course. Just know that doctors have your babies best interest in mind. The problem with very young babies is that they should not have a fever this early on. If she was a few weeks older than it might not be as worrisome. When they do have a fever, an infection in the spinal fluid is a possibility and it can be very very serious. They need to rule it out before it becomes too late. That is why the doctors are so aggressive about it. I assume if they sent you home that your baby appears well enough to not stay in the hospital. Just keep a close eye on her for the next few days. I am so sorry you had to go through this. I am sure it has been nerve racking! Don't feel guilty for refusing the procedure either. You had your baby's best interest in mind too. It is hard to make decisions in their behalf when we don't completely understand why. Take Care.

I just went through all of this just the other day. I am soo sorry, it is painful to see your little one in so much pain and hurt. My little guy was 4 months though. We went to the ER with a fever of 105 and because they couldn't find anything in his lungs, snot, urine, Xrays (his blood and heart rate was up though) but they said they wanted to do a spinal tap. If your baby has spinal meningitis it can leave permanant brain damage. I hated the idea of doing it. I left the room and walked down the hall so that I couldn't hear him cry. It was negitive thankfully. I don't regret having this done because if it had been positive for spinal meningitis they could have treated it. The head doctor came in and said that he had done this to his children because like you we were like "NO WAY". I guess the benifits of this was worth it to us even though it was negitive and seemed hard on the baby. My husband was in the room with him when this was done and they had other people hold him in a ball. My husband said the worst part was the cold wash that they have to clean the area with, and holding him a ball. But he is good now and he never seemed like it hurt him at all. I hope this helps. GOOD LUCK. Email me anytime if you have anymore questions. ____@____.com

My son had a spinal tap when he was less tan two months old. It was one of the most painful things in the world for a mother to watch. My husband and I had to hold him in a small ball-like position. They did not find anything. I had a bad experience, but I am sure your doctor knows best. I would suggest perhaps getting a second opinion.

I would like to invite you to join our mommies club. It is a lot of fun! Here is our website jennyfuursplace.com. Email me if you are interested. ____@____.com

Hi T.:
My 3 year old had to have a spinal tap a couple of months ago. I was really scared but I had to find out what was wrong with her and it wasn't really that big of a deal for her, but my neighbor had one she's is 36 and she said it was horrible. But the hospital said it's not as bad on kids as it is for adults she had a really bad headache and had to lay down for a couple of days. My daughter was already laying around and sick so I didn't notice any difference if she had any problems with it. It's hard to know but it was fast and she didn't freak out.

My sister had a spinal tap when she was 6.5 months old and although it was painful, it did end up saving her life because she did have spinal meningitis.

We have a little guy who ends up in the ER every few months, usually for something new. In all the times we've been, they've never suggested a spinal tap, although, we have had some other tests that we're pretty hard to take as a parent. I have found with these little guys that most tests they run are usually necessary. We've gotten a diagnosis almost every time from them. Check with your doctor. He'll be able to calm your fears. Kids are pretty resilient. She just came through birth. I'm sure having her head squished that much was worse than the few seconds of a needle poke, no matter how big. :) That doesn't mean it's easy as a parent. I hope she gets better soon!

Absolutely get the spinal tap! Don't mess around with the possibility of meningitis. My husband is a physician and he read your request and agreed with the ER doc. That having been said, if your baby is OK by now, then it is probably not necessary. Don't worry about the pain, at that early of an age, she won't remember it. You remember the epidural because you are old enough to have memories, but it is dependent upon each person's pain threshold. The doctor is trying to cover his tail by making it sound bad, because if something happen to her and he didn't tell you all of the consequences he would be in trouble. It's natural to be anxious in the ER, it's not exactly a calm environment. The next appointment will go smoother.

I wouldn't and it sounds like you already know what you should do but the doctor have you scared silly and you are doubting your own instincts. Fear will get you in trouble everytime. Find a good health food store and they will guide you in the right direction. I'm sorry your baby had to go through the series of test that I feel is uncalled for. Good for you for standing your ground!!

Is your pediatrician telling you to get the spinal tap? If not, call your pediatrician today and tell them the problem. The problem with the ER is they do not regularlly deal with babies, so they don't understand them. Good luck.

How scary. Any fever or sickness in a baby under 6 weeks old is medical grounds for serious investigation. However... I have found that younger siblings are exposed to more germs and are simply more likely to get colds etc at an earlier age. My second baby had a terrible cold with a fever at 4 weeks. It was just a cold. My 3rd and 4th babies also had some mild health thing before the 6 week mark. Your situation is a tough call. Hopefully your doctor will have a different mind set than the ER. Afterall, the ER tends to deal more with real emergencies, and a doctor perhaps with the realm of normal. Good luck.

T., I would not in a million years allow them to do a spinal tap on a baby.
That is a pretty drastic measure for a temp of 101.
That is not a real high temperature for a baby.
Go to your doctors appointment and see what he/she says about the temp.
You did not say how long the baby has had the temp.
Anyway, don't fret honey, babies have temps for a number of reasons.
Just breath, it will all be ok.
Good luck

It is always better to be safe rather than sorry. However...I have had a spinal tap so I am partial to NOT getting one. I was drugged so the spinal tap itself was not painful. If they are going to do it DEMAND that they lightly sedate her or do something to ease the pain. I can't imagine how I would have felt if I had not been drugged. There was a reason WHY they drugged me for that. A baby can't tell you how bad it hurts so unless her doctor has had a spinal tap without medication he/she is in no position to say whether or not it doesn't hurt. My pain came AFTER the spinal tap when they sent me home. I had a spinal headache for one week and every time I stood up it felt as though I had a thousand pounds pushing me to the ground from the top of my head. I was throwing up a lot that week because the headache was SO bad. Worst headache ever. Considering I went to the ER for a really bad headache and came out with a worse one I wish I had never had the spinal tap. You are supposed to lay flat for a certain amount of hours after you have it and they had me out of the ER before an hour had passed. My point is...if she has to have the spinal tap done don't even think about putting her in an upright position for a VERY long time after the spinal tap. After that pay close attention to whether or not she is upset for the next week when you do put her upright. If any baby had to go through what I went through it would be devastating. Really discuss this with your doctor or even better, do a whole bunch of internet research about how long she should be laying flat because those first hours are what will determine if she ends up with a spinal headache. I don't mean to scare you but it's one of my worst memories so you really should be very informed about the side effects...not so you can avoid it but so you can be prepared. Get a second opinion, too. Keeping you in my prayers, as any test is terrifying for a parent when you know that your child might experience any level of pain. Remember...the test itself is not the part to be worried about...just the proper after care which you totally have a say in! Be forceful about her laying down if you need to because it's your baby, not their's. Hope everything goes well...let me know!!

The Dr. might have been concerned with Spinal Meningitus whoch is deadly in anyage group. That might have been why the ER sugested it. If not treated it is deadly. I don't want to scare you but want you to understand that the ER usually doesn't run tests unless they have good reason.
I would rather have the test than lose a child.
Good luck
C. B


Like a few of the other mom's that actually know what they are talking about...I don't want to scare you but spinal meningitis is VERY deadly for infants. It is worth your child's life to have this spinal tap done. By 3rd child had a high fever and the spinal tap proved nothing (thank goodness), but my 4th child has had medical issues from birth. He is currently 13 months old, and I have watched him redline(quit breathing, heart stop) 3 times. Trust me, you don't want to watch your child die. The only thing I'm surprised is that the ER did not explain well enough to help you understand how deadly not having the spinal tap could be. Don't take offense, as I have no patience for stupidity, but STOP thinking of yourself and start thinking about the long term effects of your child. YOU don't want to watch her be in pain at the risk of losing your child...hello!!!!!
I'm in the hospital as I write this as he now has the rotavirus...it is hard to watch your child sick having him throw everything up and have him literally stool everything that he doesn't throw up. A resident Dr. measured how much stool was coming out of my little guy for his weight and figured that if she put that much stool out for her weight she would be pooping 11 liters in a 24 hour period. Trust me, I know what it is like to watch your kid poked and prodded...at 2 in the morning no less! So please get it done, it is not worth it...and it could be nothing, but at least you know!

A 5 week old infant with a fever has a much higher risk of bacterial infection in the blood, urine, or spinal fluid than an older child does, and they frequently show no signs of infection. Because of that, newborns with fever require a full workup to rule out bacterial infection. Infants less than 4 weeks require blood, urine and spinal fluid samples, without question; infants over 4 weeks require blood and urine, and spinal fluid may be required depending on whether other tests are concerning for infection. Your physician was not trying to be cruel, just thorough. It is most likely that your baby has a simple viral infection, however if she does have an infection in the spinal fluid, which is meningitis, and you "wait it out", she could potentially develop blindness, deafness, seizures, and death can occur. Unfortunately, the only way to rule out meningitis is with the spinal tap. It does hurt, but if done correctly, causes no long term problems. To those moms who questioned doing a spinal tap for a fever of "only" 101, I agree, the fever itself is not dangerous and will not harm your daughter. However, fever in a newborn is defined as anything greater than 100.4. This is because research has shown that this is the temperature at which risk of bacterial infection becomes great enough to justify testing. It is always your choice, as her mom, to decline testing. However please know that you are taking a risk with your child's health when you decline tests at this age. And please know that my daughter has had to have a spinal tap, so I am not recommending anything that I have not already dealt with on a personal level.

I understand that doing a spinal tap on such a young baby can be scary but it might truly reveal an infection that can't be detected otherwise. My daughter was very lethargic and wouldn't eat when she was only 4 days old. We ran to the emergency room at 9:00 at night. Because of the situation, they did all of the tests, took blood and did a spinal tap, as well. It turned out to be a problem with her not getting enough oxygen but at the time, we allowed the spinal tap, because there was no clear indication of the problem. I can also say that my niece had a spinal tap at about 6 weeks, and it was a good thing, because she ended with a meningitis diagnosis. She spent 10 days in the hospital. I know the thought of a spinal tap is scary but so is having a youngster with a serious infection that doesn't get diagnosed properly and causes permanent damage.

I am a gramdma now, but when my daughter was 10 mos. old, she convulsed with a 106 temp. and was taken to the er for it. They did a spinal tap in order to rule out menengitis. It was painful to watch as I didn't want her to hurt, but she came out of it fine. I believe it does hurt them, but I am not sure if it compares to a shot or blood pull, which our kids both hated to have done. If your baby is recovering and hasn't still got a fever I guess I would wait. I am a bit suprised that they wanted to do one for a temp that low. Not that it is a low one for normal everyday stuff, but for something as drastic as a tap, it seems they would want it to be higher than 101. Go see your doc and get their opinion and you will feel alot better either way. Good luck. I am sure you are a great mom and this is a scary event. Hang in there. S.

I would have done the same thing. A 101 fever generally isn't high for a baby, especially with an older sibling in the home. For something more serious like meningitis, the fever would likely be much higher. I would most definitely talk to my pediatrician before taking that step, they're more highly trained in dealing with babies and infections specific to little ones - however, if the ped recommended it, I would do it. Good luck and hope your baby is doing better soon!

I just went through a very scary evening with my daughter running a temp of 105 for over 6 hours. I was out of town, and desperatly wanted to see my ped. I called him, and asked if I should just take her to the ER in the town I was in. His recommendation, was to keep trying meds,cold clothes and wait it out a bit longer. His reasoning was b/c er docs tend to over-do it, to make sure they cover thier own behinds.... so, what I would do is probably take her to the ped you trust and know, don't rely on what an er doc told you. Another tip my doc gave me was to trust myself he said there is nothing better than a mother's intuition.

Dear T.,
My 9 month old son died of spinal menigitis after being diagnosed with a small patch of pneumonia (seen on the chest X-ray) We had been monitoring a fever for several days that actually wasn't that high. Had they taken the spinal tap they might have had a better chance at treating it. I know you must follow your heart and do what you think is best...but I thought you should know.


When my middle son was 8 months old, he became very ill and the doctors could not figure out what was wrong with him through standard tests. My son had been lethargic with a high fever and no appetite for 3 days! They recommeded a spinal tap to test the fluid and check for things like menengitis. I was apprehensive to say the least, scared just like you are. But my husband and I agreed to try anything and let them do it (we were asked to leave the room because it is quite painful!) Turns out he had SEPTSIS!! A blood infection from some undetected strep virus. Had we not had the spinal, he may not have been hospitalized and helped in enough time to prevent any permanent damamge.
It is SUPER scary to think of the pain a spinal might cause your child, but in the end it was worth it for us. I hope this helps and that your daughter feels better soon!

Hi T.,

When my son was 3 weeks old we had to take him in to the ER for a temp of 102. We did allow them to do a spinal tap and we stayed at the hospital for three days. It turned out that the spinal tap did not show a bacterial infection. My son had a strange virus that caused the high temp and a barely detectable rash. When they did the spinal tap, they gave us the option of staying in the room but they recommended that we leave since it was going to be extremely emotional for us. When we made the decision to do the spinal tap, we weighed whether we would have more regrets with doing it and having it turn out negative or if we did not do it and something serious was there and treatment would have been delayed. For us, we felt more comfortable with getting a diagnosis ASAP so that he could get treatment ASAP, even if it meant that he had to go through a painful procedure because the risks of a bacterial infection are so serious. I'm actually really suprised that they let you leave the hospital because that wasn't an option for us. This makes me wonder if his symptoms weren't quite serious enough to warrant the procedure. Either decision you make will be hard as a mother. Trust your instincts and know that no matter what, you are doing the best you can for your baby.

Hi, I think I would put a lot more trust in a doctor than in a bunch a people you've never met on line. I would seek a specialists opinion.

Go to another Dr. and get a 2nd opinion.

In MY experience, it's HIGHLY UNUSUAL for a doctor to order a spinal tap to diagnose a simple fever. I just can't help but feel like we are missing a lot of information here. How long has she had the fever? Are there other symptoms?

Kids get fevers all the time, for no particular reason and 101 just ISN'T that high. Especially for an infant.

A spinal tap is an invasive procedure that does carry risks. In my personal experience, it is a test that is usually used when there's a chronic illness that they're having a hard time diagnosing. Not for diagnosing a simple fever. This is all very odd, to me... I had a spinal tap as an adult, after having a migraine headache for three SOLID months.

GOOD FOR YOU, for questioning the necessity of this procedure. I think that all to often, people just blindly do whatever their doctor says, because they're a doctor. But doctor's make mistakes too.

Can you share any more information about your child's symptoms? There has to be more to this, that JUST a 101 fever.

My son went to the emergency with a temp of 101 and had a spinal tap at 3.5 weeks old and again at 6 weeks old. Both times revealed a life threatening systemic infection. A fever over 101 in a child less than 8 weeks old can be VERY serious and they can take a turn for the worse very fast (a matter of hours). The second time the infection recurred in my son went from a happy infant to nearly respiratory arrest in about 3 hours, when I took his temp and called the nurse she had me call 911. I was completely flabbergasted and I had no idea that it could be that serious. It was and he was in the hospital again for 6 days this time. You need to make your own decision but I would certainly suggest to have it done. Hope this helps.

Well, I wanted to write with a couple of experiences. One mine and another of a friend of mine. My friend's baby was about five months old and only had a temperature but was otherwise acting normal. The only way they found the spinal meningitis was through the spinal tap. Also, my son has to have one this coming week (other health issues). The doc assures us it is fairly routine and that the risks are minimal when they do it in the lower part of the spine. I trust this doctor an incredible amount as we have seen amazing results in our son's health and he continues to look for answers. My friend said she wasn't allowed in the room for the tap but when he came out a few minutes after he behaved normally from the minute she saw him. Good luck with you decision.

Okay, when I read this, I thought "really? a spinal tap?" And then I called my husband, the Pediatric Oncologist, at Children's. And he said "How old? 5 weeks? Yeah, that's pretty standard, because it's the only way to tell for spinal meningitis" He was actually saying the urine cultures are actually less pleasant than the spinal tap, and you're past that one, right? So I would say go in and seriously consider having it done. Good luck!

When I had my third baby, at her one week checkup, she had a temp over 101 so she was admitted to the hospital. We have a wonderful pediatrician, and I trust her judgement. She ordered a spinal tap. I was sick with fear. It was quick and my daughter never cried, she was more upset when they did the exam. They said they needed to determine if she had bacterial meningitis. After 3 days in the hospital it turned out to be viral meningitis, not pleasant, but much better than the bacterial form. I hope everything works out. If the doctor feels the spinal tap is necessary, for your daughters well-being, you should do it.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.