Fever: Friend or Foe?

03.03.11 New report urges parents not to run to the medicine cabinet or doc's office each time a child gets a fever.

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Parental instinct may force you to try everything under the sun to lower your child's fever—anything to ease the persistent crying and discomfort. But a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that parents should not worry so much about treating a child's fever, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

The AAP report—published online in the journal Pediatrics—found that having a fever may be a good thing for kids. It serves as a "reminder that a fever plays a beneficial role in fighting infection," the Times article says. Oftentimes, a trip to the pediatrician's and over-the-counter fever-reducing medications are not needed. Recent concerns that adults are overmedicating children to treat pain and fever prompted this report.

Unless a child has other visible symptoms like a cough, runny nose or vomiting that may suggest an underlying sickness, it may be better to hold off on trying to treat the fever.

Instead, the report says comforting a child through a fever—in addition to making sure they're eating and staying hydrated—is an effective way to help a child get over a fever faster.

However, if your child is feverish and younger than 3 months, take him or her to the doctor. Children ages 4 months to 6 years with fevers higher than 101°F and children older than 6 with fevers higher than 103°F should all be seen by a doctor.

Acetaminophen or ibuprofen should only be given to a child if she or he has visible symptoms and is also acting sick—achy, lethargic and feeling chilly.

If your child is running a bit warm and you're concerned, remember that age and symptoms are key in dealing with a high temperature. Check out our New Mom Survival Guide for more information on babies and fevers. Plus, click over to our It's Just a Fever page for instructions on how to accurately take a child's temperature.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor