Expert Advice -- Strep Throat in Children

Is strep throat dangerous? What is the treatment? Can babies get it?


Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, MO. He graduated from medical... Read more

Strep throat is caused by the bacteria called Group A beta hemolytic streptococci. All children may get strep throat although babies are felt to be at a very low risk. Typically, but certainly not always, the child gets a fever and sore throat with large tonsils that typically have pus on them. Some children will only have symptoms consisting of headache or stomach ache. Some children develop a rash about the body which is red and has fine bumps. The skin appears sunburned and may look like sandpaper. This rash usually appers around 24 hours after the fever. When this occurs, it is called scarlet fever.

While strep throat, itself, is not dangerous, there are complications of this infection which can cause significant problems. These complications include acute rheumatic fever which may cause problems with heart and acute glomerulonephritis which can cause problems with the kidneys. The children most at risk for these complications are generally over two years of age. Therefore, while babies may get strep throat, they rarely if ever develop the complications of this disease.

Treatment for this is with antibiotics after confirming the diagnosis by testing the throat. There are a lot of different types of antibiotics that may be used. For additional information, I suggest you read Are ear infections and sore throats contagious?.


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