When you’ve got a feverish kid, all you want to do is bring that scary number on the thermometer down. Until now, that is. A new report published online today in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ journal Pediatrics turns conventional wisdom on its head, stating that parents should focus on making their child comfortable—but that there’s no need to normalize her temperature, reports MedPage Today. In fact, doing so can actually slow down healing.
Plus: The Facts about Fevers and Febrile Seizures
Here’s more about what pediatricians want parents to understand about fever:
- Fever is not a primary illness; it’s one way the body responds naturally to illness—and it can have beneficial effects in fighting infection as it slows the growth and reproduction of bacteria and viruses. In fact, lowering a fever may actually prolong an illness.
- Contrary to what many parents think, there’s no evidence that fever itself worsens an illness or causes long-term damage in a generally healthy child (so you can stop worrying that a fever is cooking your kid’s brain cells).
- Many parents fear febrile seizures, but there’s no evidence that fever reducers can prevent them. The seizures are usually caused by a rapid increase in body temperature in the early stages of an infection, often before the parents have even realized that their child has a fever. Also, scary as they are, febrile seizures are usually harmless.
- Let her rest! Don’t wake your child to give her medication.
- Don’t give your child other cough and cold products that contain an antipyretic when you’re already giving her acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as this could result in overdose. (The FDA recommends against giving cold and cough meds to small children at all). Also, you need to pay close attention to dosing instructions based on your child’s weight, not age or height.
- If you have a baby under four months old, a fever over 100.4 is cause for concern, and you should contract your pediatrician.
Bottom line: Pay attention to how your child feels instead of the number on the thermometer. The primary goal in treating fever should be to make your child more comfortable—and using fever-reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen are appropriate for that purpose. But if your child feels fine, there’s no need to use them. Plus: Our A-to-Z Guide to Fevers
Do fevers make you freak? Does this new report change the way you’ll treat them from now on?