Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Management of feverish children at home.

British Medical Journal 1992; 305 doi: (Published 07 November 1992) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1992;305:1134
  1. A. L. Kinmonth,
  2. Y. Fulton,
  3. M. J. Campbell
  1. Primary Medical Care, University of Southampton, Aldermoor Health Centre.


    OBJECTIVES--To compare the acceptability and effects on temperature of advice to unwrap children and give paracetamol or warm sponging treatments in the management of feverish illness at home. DESIGN--A randomised, open, parallel group study using factorial design comparison of unwrapping, warm sponging plus unwrapping, paracetamol plus unwrapping, and paracetamol and warm sponging plus unwrapping. SETTING--Homes of willing families with a feverish child recruited after consulting one of 21 participating general practitioners in Southampton. SUBJECTS--52 children aged from 3 months to 5 years with axillary temperatures before treatment of > or = 37.8 degrees C and < 40 degrees C. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Response to advice assessed over four hours; temperature assessed by continuous data logging from an axillary thermistor; acceptability of treatment to child and parent scored on Likert scales immediately after treatment and on return to health. RESULTS--Response to treatment advice varied; unwrapping alone had little effect on temperature. Paracetamol increased the time below 37.2 degrees C in four hours by 109 (95% confidence interval 74 to 145) minutes compared with unwrapping; warm sponging caused the fastest reduction in temperature. Parents discriminated between treatments, preferring paracetamol. CONCLUSION--Advice to give paracetamol is more effective than sponging or unwrapping in controlling temperature in children at home and is more acceptable to parents. Warm sponging has an additive effect and reduces fever more quickly than paracetamol.