Background: Although the onset of fever in children often prompts parents to seek immediate treatment, the general level of parental knowledge on pediatric fever and administration of antipyretic medications is unknown. Parents without a basic understanding of treatment principles may give their children incorrect doses of medication. Overdosing may cause drug toxicity, while underdosing may lead to unnecessary, repeated clinic and/or emergency room visits.
Objectives: To assess parental decision-making with regard to treating fever in children, and its effectiveness, and to suggest methods for improving the level of treatment.
Methods: In this cross-sectional self-reported survey, questionnaires were completed by 650 parents who sought medical assistance for a child under the age of 10 years. Parents represented various socioeconomic levels, educational backgrounds and religious affiliations.
Results: Ninety-six percent of parents treated fevers that reached 38.5°C, and 77.6% treated fevers of only 38°C. Acetaminophen was the treatment of choice for 96% and dipyrone for 4%. Parental sources of information for managing and administering antipyretic drugs were medical personnel (40.7%), mother's or grandmother's experience (30%), and the enclosed leaflet or instructions on the bottle (29.3%). Forty-three percent of the parents administered the recommended dosage (10–20 mg/kg), whereas 24.3% used less and 32.7% used more; 11% exceeded a daily dosage of 120 mg/kg.
Conclusions: A total of 57% of parents treated children with incorrect doses of antipyretic drugs. In 11% of the children treated, the daily dose was at a level that could cause severe toxicity. Parental knowledge of the treatment of fever must be improved.