BALTIMORE — Many parents worry too much about the danger of childhood fevers and tend to over-treat even the mildest temperatures, according to research unveiled Monday by Johns Hopkins doctors. A little fever, they say, actually might be good for kids.
The findings confirm what pediatricians have heard from panicked parents over the years — especially those who call because their child has a temperature of 99 degrees (it’s not technically a fever until it hits 100.4 degrees, doctors say). Often, they report that they’ve given more medication than necessary for higher temperatures.
“Parents have this idea we’ve got to get fever down at all costs,” said Dr. Michael Crocetti, a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and an author of the study. “Fever actually helps, for most infections, to fight the infection. It helps our immune system work better.”
The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center study, presented Monday at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Honolulu, was drawn from 487 interviews with parents of patients at two Baltimore clinics. Researchers found that parents gave their children acetaminophen and ibuprofen more often than recommended. Only fevers above 107 degrees can cause brain damage in children, Crocetti and others said. Those temperatures are rare.