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Symptoms in 298 infants under 6 months old, seen at home.
  1. A J Thornton,
  2. C J Morley,
  3. P H Hewson,
  4. T J Cole,
  5. M A Fowler,
  6. J M Tunnacliffe
  1. Department of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge.


    Symptoms were assessed in 298 infants under 6 months old seen at home. Their mothers were asked if they were concerned about their babies and then questioned about the presence, duration, and severity of 28 predefined symptoms. Forty seven mothers expressed concern about their babies (16%), whereas on direct questioning 241 (81%) reported symptoms present within the last 24 hours. One hundred and twenty three (41%) reported three or more. Many of the symptoms occurred in more than 15 babies (5%). The commonest were cold peripheries (117, 39%), noisy breathing (88, 30%), and rash (68, 23%). These had often been present for many days. Only 257/819 reported symptoms (31%) were of recent onset (less than 4 days) with 168 (21%) graded by the mother as moderate or severe. A few highly specific symptoms that were associated with serious conditions were rare. Symptoms cannot be interpreted without detailed questioning taking their severity and duration into account, and most occur too often to be used as indicators for referral.

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