December 1975

High Fever

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics Eastern Virginia Medical School 358 Mombray Arch Norfolk, VA 23501

Am J Dis Child. 1975;129(12):1457. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1975.02120490065022

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Sir.—In the June 1975 issue of the Journal (129:693, 1975), I believe Dr Tomlinson has missed the point of the mothers' question, "aren't high fevers always serious?" What mothers are really asking is, "aren't high fevers always harmful?" A great many mothers (and some physicians) are concerned about high fevers because of their erroneous belief that the high fever in itself is harmful: "it can cook the brain," "it can damage the body," "it always causes convulsions." Too often we find mothers (and some physicians) vigorously and overzealously treating the temperature elevation and overlooking the cause of the fever—an iatrogenic anachronism left over from the days when treatment of fever was the physician's main stock-in-trade. "Treat the child, not the thermometer" is advice we often give to apprehensive parents, emphasizing that it is the underlying condition that could be harmful and requires treatment. The degree of fever does

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