A misplaced “fever phobia” in society means parents too frequently use both medicines to bring down even slight temperatures, say a group of American paediatricians, who warn that children can receive accidental overdoses as a result. As many as half of parents are giving their children the wrong dosage, according to a study carried out by the doctors.
In new guidance, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that a high temperature is often the body’s way of fighting an infection, and warns parents that to bring it down with drugs could actually lengthen a child’s illness. Family doctors too readily advise parents to use the medicines, known collectively as “antipyretics”, according to the authors of the guidance.
GPs also often tell parents to give their children alternate doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen – known as combination therapy – believing the risk of side effects to be minimal. In its official guidance, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) says the use of the drugs “should be considered in children with fever who appear distressed or unwell”.