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Pharmacy News

Dr Marie Sartain
/ Categories: APhA News

Most unnecessarily give their children fever-reducing medicine

While most parents and caregivers recognize that a low-grade fever helps a child’s body fight off infection, a new poll from University of Michigan researchers finds that one in three parents would give fever-reducing medication for spiked temperatures below 100.4°F, which isn’t recommended.

The National Poll on Children’s Health, which was carried out by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at University of Michigan Health, also found that half of parents would also use medicine if the fever was between 100.4 and 101.9 degrees Fahrenheit, and a quarter of parents would likely give another dose to prevent the fever from returning.

“Often parents worry about their child having a fever and want to do all they can to reduce their temperature. However, they may not be aware that in general the main reason to treat a fever is just to keep their child comfortable,” said Susan Woolford, MD, from University of Michigan Health’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, in a news release.

She noted that some parents or caregivers may immediately rush to give their child medicine, but it’s often better to let the fever run its course.

“Lowering a child’s temperature doesn’t typically help cure their illness any faster,” Woolford said. “In fact, a low-grade fever helps fight off the infection. There’s also the risk of giving too much medication when it's not needed, which can have side effects.”

The report is based on 1,376 responses from parents of children ages 12 and under polled between August and September 2022.

Two in three parents polled say they’re very confident they know whether their child needs medication to reduce a fever, but just over half are sure they understand how temperature readings can change according to the method used.

Community pharmacists are perfectly aligned to help parents and caregivers better handle fevers in children, reminding them when to use medication, and how to dose it while being cognizant of overmedicating, using alternatives to alleviate discomfort, knowing when to call a pediatrician, and more.

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