I'll admit it: when my kids run temperatures, I get caught up in "fever phobia." It's so easy to become obsessed with monitoring and managing their fevers (even though I own the world's worst battery-operated thermometer. 97 is a normal reading for this thing!) I can't do all that much for my kids' coughs or runny noses or other sources of misery, but I can give them Children's Tylenol or Advil and watch their fevers plummet for a few hours, anyway.

And I'm of course mindful that schools generally want kids to be fever-free for 24 hours before they can return. That only adds to the motivation to keep their temperatures level as much as possible.

Which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidance about when to give fever-reducing medication to children. The guidance encourages parents to focus more on their children's symptoms and comfort and to stop focusing so much on the temperature. Fever, after all, is a good thing! It means your body is responding to and fighting off infection.

"Many parents administer antipyretics even when there is minimal or no fever, because they are concerned that the child must maintain a 'normal' temperature," the report states. "Fever, however, is not the primary illness but is a physiologic mechanism that has beneficial effects in fighting infection. There is no evidence that fever itself worsens the course of an illness or that it causes long-term neurologic complications. Thus, the primary goal of treating the febrile child should be to improve the child’s overall comfort rather than focus on the normalization of body temperature."

Pediatrics reported no substantial difference in the safety or effectiveness of ibuprofen versus acetaminophen. The report cited pros and cons to using both at once for sick kids.

I was surprised by one statistic from the report: in one survey, 85 percent of parents reported waking their children up to give them fever-reducing medications. Now I'm as fever phobic as the next parent, but that sounds nuts to me! Let em' sleep! 


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