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February 1980

Fever Phobia: Misconceptions of Parents About Fevers

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Medical Center, Denver.

Am J Dis Child. 1980;134(2):176-181. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1980.02130140050015

• Eighty-one parents bringing their children to a hospital-based pediatric clinic were surveyed about their understanding of fever. Most parents were unduly worried about low-grade fever, with temperatures of 38.9 °C or less. Their overconcern was designated "fever phobia." Most parents (52%) believed that moderate fever with a temperature of 40 °C or less can cause serious neurological side-effects. Hence, most parents treated fever aggressively: 85% gave antipyretic medication before the temperature reached 38.9 °C and 68% sponged the child before the temperature reached 39.5 °C. A review of the literature showed that the only serious complications of fever were febrile status epilepticus and heat stroke, two rare entities. The great concern of parents about fever is not justified. Health education to counteract "fever phobia" should be a part of routine pediatric care.

(Am J Dis Child 134:176-181, 1980)