Turn to fever-reducing medication whenever Baby's temperature creeps above 98.6? A child's fever can be worrying to parents, and is one of the most common reasons parents seek a pediatrician's care. But according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in the March 2011 issue of Pediatrics, using acetaminophen or ibuprofen when Baby only has a minimal fever may not help much, and may even prolong the course of the illness.
As the nation's top children's doctor group reminds parents, fever is not an illness—a raised temperature is actually one of the key ways the body fights infection. For parents who break out in a cold sweat whenever their child feels a little hot, AAP researchers reassure that there is no evidence that fever itself worsens illness or that it causes long-term complications. In fact, the AAP report finds the drive to maintain a "normal temperature" by using fever-reducing drugs may be more dangerous than the fever itself due to risk of improper dosing.
So what should you do the next time Baby spikes a temp? Comfort is key, according to the AAP. Parents and caregivers should focus on the general well-being of the child, her activity and alertness, maintaining fluid intake, and observing the child for signs of serious illness. According to Dr. Estevan Garcia, vice chair for emergency medicine at Maimonedes Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, a fever may warrant a check-in with a doctor if it persists above 103 degrees Fahrenheit and continues to make a child uncomfortable.
"When the behavior has changed to the point when the parent realizes Junior continues to feel uncomfortable even with support, then they might need an intervention," says Garcia, in an interview with ABC News.
If you do go ahead with a fever-reducing medication, be aware that the correct dosage is based on the child's weight, and that an accurate measuring device should always be used. According to the AAP's fever advice, parents to not wake up a sleeping child to administer medication.