Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Prospective study of symptoms and signs in acutely ill infants in general practice.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 27 June 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:1661
  1. A Wright,
  2. G H Luffingham,
  3. D North


    A study was made of all cases of acute illness in infants aged 6 months or less presenting in a Gosport practice over five months. The frequency in these patients of the well defined symptoms and signs suggested to be important by the preliminary report of the Department of Health and Social Security's multicentre study of postneonatal mortality was recorded. During the study period there were 161 infants of this age in the practice, who gave rise to 69 consultations with acute illness. Thirty eight of these were given drug treatment and five were referred to a paediatric unit, one of them on social grounds. There were no infant deaths in the practice (total population 11,400), but two occurred in the Gosport area (total population 83,000). It would be unrealistic to refer all patients with any one of the symptoms and signs, even when well defined, in the age group 6 months or less. Analysis of the symptoms and signs found in those children who required admission did not show any pattern differentiating them from those who did not. Although the symptoms and signs studied are of value in assessment and should be sought in these patients, they cannot be used singly or in any pattern to indicate referral per se.