In the winter, when kids are regularly exposed to circulating viruses at school or daycare, a warm forehead is one of the first clear signs a child has caught a virus, and it has been found that some parents may reach for medication too quickly when children feel warm, a new study showed on Monday.
While most parents recognise that a low-grade fever helps a child's body fight off infection, one in three would give fever-reducing medication for spiked temperatures below 100.4 -- which isn't recommended, according to the US-based CS Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at the University of Michigan Health.
Moreover, if the fever was between 100.4 and 101.9 degrees, half of the parents would use a medicine, and a quarter 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 Mott Poll co-director and Mott paediatrician Susan Woolford, M.D.
"Some parents may immediately rush to give their kids medicine but it's often better to let the fever runs its course. Lowering a child's temperature doesn't typically help cure their illness any faster. In fact, a low-grade fever helps fight off the infection," they added.
The report is based on 1,376 responses from parents of children ages 12.
Two out of every three parents polled believe they know whether their child requires fever-reducing medication, according to the study.
However, just over half are confident that they understand how temperature readings can vary depending on the method used.
"A quarter of parents would give their child more medicine to prevent a fever from returning even though it doesn't help them get better," Woolford said.
"If a child is otherwise doing well, parents may consider monitoring them and using alternative interventions to help keep them comfortable", she added.
However, if a newborn or infant under three months old has a fever, they should see a doctor right away, according to Woolford.