The latest Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll surveyed Australian parents, asking a series of questions about fever.
Key findings include:
- Australian parents report over half (58%) of children aged less than five years have had a fever in the past three months.
- One in three parents say they would always or often visit the GP if their child had a fever and one in 10 would always or often visit an emergency department.
- Many parents hold misbeliefs with 32% mistakenly believing fever is always a sign of serious illness and 40% mistakenly believing untreated fever can cause death.
- Parents have misunderstandings about the role of medication with four in five believing that it is important to try to lower the body temperature of a child with a fever.
Two thirds of Australian parents often or always give their child over-the-counter medication to treat a fever, even when they are otherwise well and comfortable, with many parents waking their child through the night to give them medication. The latest National Child Health Poll found many parents have misunderstandings about fever. Despite how common fevers are in children, the report found one in three parents mistakenly believe fever is always a sign of serious illness and two in five parents mistakenly believe fever can cause death.Download the report
The poll surveyed 2,014 parents in April 2023, who provided data on 3,324 children aged between one month and 17 years.Download the questions
In the news
Channel 9 Melbourne: Parents are over-medicating their kids
Channel 7 Melbourne: Advice on children’s fevers doctors want every family to know
3AW: ‘Not recommended’: Research shows parents are over-medicating their children
ABC Radio Perth: Has your child got a fever? Here’s what you should do
Information for parents
Tips for parents
- If your child seems otherwise well and comfortable, there is no need to treat a fever.
- Lowering your child’s fever will not help to treat the underlying illness.
- Many children refuse to eat when they have a fever, this is not a problem, as long as they stay hydrated so give them frequent small drinks.
- Give your child paracetamol and/or ibuprofen if they are uncomfortable or miserable, or if they have pain or other symptoms, such as a sore throat.
- Do not give ibuprofen to babies under three months old or to any child who is dehydrated.
- Try wiping your child’s forehead with a sponge or face washer soaked in slightly warm water to help them feel comfortable.
- It’s important children don’t become too cold or uncomfortable and lowering the body temperature with cold baths or showers is not recommended.
- If your child is shivering, add another layer of clothing or a blanket until they stop.
- If your baby is under three months old and has a fever they should be seen by a healthcare provider the same day
- RCH Kids Health Information fact sheet – Fever: www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/fever_in_children