An Overview of Pediatric Vital Signs

Best Pediatric Care in Ahmedabad

Vital signs are key indicators that monitor the health and functioning of important organs. These measurements include heart rate, oxygen levels, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. Taking vital signs into consideration is essential to detect changes in the function of major organs and alerting healthcare professionals about possible medical issues. However, Vital signs are different in a child than in adults. The four major vital signs are Heart rate, body temperature, breathing rate and blood pressure.

Body Temperature:

Checking your child’s temperature is one of the most important ways to determine if they have a fever. The best and most accurate way to measure their temperature is to use a digital thermometer. You can take their temperature in the mouth or rectally; taking a rectal temperature is more accurate, but any reading over 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37.2 Celsius) may be considered a fever. One thing to keep in mind is to always clean the thermometer with soapy water before use. For babies younger than 3 months, a rectal temperature gives the most accurate reading. Once your child reaches 3 months and older, you can use an oral thermometer.

Steps to take Rectal Temperature:

Place your baby on your lap on his/her belly. Place a small amount of petroleum jelly on the end of a thermometer. Insert half an inch of it into the anal opening for a moment until it beeps. Then, remove it and read the measured temperature.

Steps to take Oral Temperature:

Place the end point of the thermometer under their tongue. Have them close their lips securely around the thermometer for a few moments until it beeps, which will indicate that it has recorded their temperature. After this, remove it and check the recorded temperature.

Normal Temperature

Generally, a standard temperature is 98.6°F when taken orally or 99.6°F when taken rectally (in the bottom). If you measure an oral temperature of above 99.5°F or a rectal reading of 100.4°F and higher, your child has a fever. For babies younger than three months old, any rectal temperature of 100.4°F and above needs to be promptly reported to their doctor even without other symptoms. A fever in infants can point to underlying issues.

Heart Rate:

The heart rate, sometimes referred to as the pulse rate, is a measure of how many times the heart beats in a minute. Generally, when a person is active their heart rate increases and when they are seated or sleeping it slows down. It’s important to check a child’s heart rate if they complain of chest pain, difficulty breathing, or their lips turn blue.

How to measure a child’s heart rate?  

To check your child’s heart rate, it is best to have them seated for at least 5 minutes. Place the index and middle fingers of your hand on the front of their neck or wrist, armpit, or elbow crease to get a feel for their heartbeat. Set a timer for 30 seconds and count all the beats you can feel in those 30 seconds. Multiply this number by two to find out your child’s heart rate.

Normal Heart Rate:

The average heart rate for infants up to 12 months of age is 100-160 beats per minute (bpm). For toddlers aged 1-3 yrs, the  normal range is 90-150 bpm. Preschoolers aged 3-5 yrs have a heart rate that’s 80-140 bpm. A school-aged child from 5-12 years has a healthy bpm of 70-120 and adolescents from 12-18 years have a normal heart rate of 60-100 bpm.

An unusually low heart rate is a cause for concern, especially in infants and children. It can occur as a result of medications taken during pregnancy, breathing problems, hypothermia, or structural issues with the heart itself. If you observe that your child’s heart rate is slower than usual, make sure to seek medical advice from the Best Pediatric Care in Ahmedabad to ensure there are no underlying issues.

Respiratory Rate:

It’s important to monitor your child’s respiratory rate, which is the number of breaths they take per minute. It can increase when they are feeling anxious, scared, in pain or have a high fever. A fast or slow respiratory rate may be an indication that your child is struggling to breathe properly and you should call your pediatrician for advice and further help.

To measure your child’s breathing rate, count the number of times their chest rises over a 30 second period and double this number to get the approximate respiration per minute. Generally speaking, a healthy infant (0-12 months) should have a respiratory rate between 30-60 breaths per minute, toddlers (1-3 years) should be between 24-40 breaths per minute, preschoolers (3-5 years) 22-34 breaths per minute, school aged children (5-12 years) 18-30 breaths per minute, and adolescents (12 -18 years) 12 -16 breaths per minute.

A fast pulse along with signs of respiratory distress that includes bluish color around the mouth and nose, pale or gray skin, a grunting sound with each breath out can be caused by infections or chronic illnesses. In addition, nose flares, wheezing, sweating, tiredness, chest sinking in with each breath in and out, decreased eating and drinking capacity, and vocalising less than usual is also a sign of respiratory distress.

Blood Pressure:

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a growing health concern in children and adults alike. It occurs when the force of your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries too hard or too often. Having high blood pressure over time can put strain on your heart, leading to a range of medical issues, such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can be caused in children by a range of factors including heart defects, kidney disease, genetic conditions, hormone disorders or being overweight. If it is left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to other serious health issues such as damage to key organs. Therefore it’s important that if you notice any of the possible symptoms in your child that you seek medical advice.

Low blood pressure, known as hypotension, can make a child feel dizzy, nauseous, or faint. There are numerous causes of low blood pressure in children, such as medication they’re taking, dehydration and blood loss, heart conditions, infections, allergies, endocrine problems and nutrition issues.

Blood pressure should be checked in your child starting at the age of three. If your child was born prematurely, has low birth weight, has congenital heart disease, takes medications that increase blood pressure or has any other health conditions that could lead to high blood pressure, a doctor may suggest checking it earlier.

Checking your child’s blood pressure can help you and your doctor monitor their health. To ensure you are taking an accurate reading, use a cuff-style automated blood pressure monitor that fits on the upper part of their arm. Make sure to bring the device with you to your next appointment so it can be calibrated correctly.