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Researchers At Boston Children's To Study Body Temperature

BOSTON (CBS) -- Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, right? Or is it?

11-year-old Carson Domey of Bellingham was diagnosed with Crohn's disease back in September. It causes inflammation in his gut.

"My stomach hurts," he told WBZ-TV. "My head hurts. My mouth hurts."

His symptoms are kept at bay by medications, which suppress his immune system, but they also put him at risk for serious infections so his mom, Michelle Domey, monitors him closely for fever.

"His normal temperature is generally around 97.3," she says. "Once we get into the 99s, we start getting concerned."

Most doctors and nurses don't even blink at a temperature of 99 degrees Fahrenheit and most people quote 98.6 degrees as normal. But where did that number come from?

As it turns out, the number came out of a study dating back to the 1800s when thermometers weren't accurate, so new numbers are desperately needed.

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital are hoping to recruit thousands of adults and kids from all over the country to participate in a study. Anybody can do it, and all they need is an iPhone or iPod and a thermometer.

The study is called "Feverprints" because like fingerprints, researchers believe people have a unique temperature pattern. The data is collected through an Apple-based app.

"Ideally, users are entering their temperature multiple times a day, both when they are healthy and when they are sick," says Dr. Jared Hawkins of Boston Children's Hospital and the study's lead researcher.

Dr. Jonathan Hausmann, a rheumatology fellow at Boston Children's, is also involved in the study.

"Hopefully with the results of our project, your doctor will be able to look at these fever curves and identify, 'Hey, I know what you have, you have the flu' or 'You have a pneumonia,'" he says.

This research could also make it easier for children like Carson Domey, who may not mount high fevers, to get medical attention when they need it.

"Instead of just saying you have a 99 but no biggie, that could be different because the study could say people with Crohn's disease normally run 97," he said.

"Being able to not be so rigid in their thinking of what a temperature is would be a huge help," adds Michelle Domey.

For more information, visit the Feverprints website.

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