Reviewed by Amita Shroff on September 18, 2014


Hansa Bhargava, MD, oversees the team of medical experts responsible for assuring the accuracy, credibility, and timeliness of all content on WebMD FIT and Raising FIT Kids. Bhargava is a graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, did her residency at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and is board certified in pediatrics.

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Video Transcript

Joy Brown: This new mom is anxious because her infant is sick for the first time and asks, "When should I call my pediatrician and/or 911? What symptoms are considered serious or life threatening in babies?"

Dr. Bhargava: Well, if you are concerned about your infant especially a newborn one, it’s very important to call the pediatrician right away.

Dr. Bhargava: The first few months of life, the baby is very delicate and many things can cause a baby to get sick. Specifically, if you think that your baby doesn’t look well. That’s probably the biggest reason that you should call your pediatrician, but also if the baby is not feeding well, having a fever, cough, congestion, looks like he is having -- he or she is having trouble breathing, vomiting or any change in the stools, those are all good reasons to call your pediatrician.

Dr. Bhargava: I think she was worried about 911. I probably would call 911 again if you are really worried about how the child looks, but more importantly, if the child looks like he has stopped breathing or if he is not looking the right color, if he is not moving like he should or of course if the child has fallen or somehow sustained an injury.

Joy Brown: It makes good sense, I know I have been that kind of a parent at Friday night at 7 o’clock. And that’s when the fever appears or that’s when something seems like I need the doctor. Do you think at that point -- you usually have people who are on call in your practices, is that true? Should you call your pediatrician and see if you can get through, to a nurse practitioner through your pediatricians office or do you call the hospital?

Dr. Bhargava: I think the best thing to do is actually try to get through to your pediatrician, because they know your child best. And certainly all doctor’s offices have some call mechanisms in place even after the office is closed. So, don’t worry about the time, somehow kids do tend to get sicker at night and on Friday nights. And I’m not really saying that facetiously, it seems to happen a lot. So feel free to pick up the phone, it’s very important if you are worried about your child.

Joy Brown: But 911 never hesitate, especially if they are looking blue, not breathing, those kinds of really --?

Dr. Bhargava: Oh absolutely. If you are worried again, use that maternal instinct. If you think you need to call, call; the guidelines are what I said, but of course, I’m not there with you. So you would have to decide that on the spur of the moment.

Joy Brown: Don’t worry about being too cautious in other words.

Dr. Bhargava: Especially with a newborn, especially with a young infant.