Current challenges in the diagnosis and management of fever

Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 05/16/2012

Sherman JM et al. – Pediatricians should spend more time educating parents about fever and antipyretic use. Not all persistent fever is fevers of unknown origin (FUO), and testing should be targeted to the child's clinical condition. Existing low–risk criteria should be used to identify febrile infants who can be managed without extensive work–up and antibiotics. Adherence to evidence–based recommendations will lessen the morbidity and mortality associated with febrile illnesses in children.


  • The authors review recommendations from recent publications on the management of fever with antipyretics, the classification and diagnosis of fevers of unknown origin (FUO), and the evaluation of fever in infants under 90 days of age.


  • Anxiety about fever persists in the population, while the toxicity of antipyretics is an increasing concern.
  • The numerous opportunities for overdosing with antipyretics have been emphasized by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  • The practice of alternating acetaminophen and ibuprofen has limited value.
  • Nonclassic FUO and pseudo-FUO are as important to consider as true FUO, and clinicians should become familiar with the variety of periodic fever syndromes.
  • The clinical utility of low-risk criteria to identify febrile infants at low risk for serious bacterial infection (SBI) was demonstrated in a systematic review of studies.

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