Alternating Antipyretics for Fever Reduction in Children: An Unfounded Practice Passed Down to Parents from Pediatricians

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Abstract

A convenience sample of parents/caregivers completed a 10-question survey on their patterns of antipyretic therapy administration to determine if antipyretics were alternated, how often, who advised them to do this, and how they learned to dose the antipyretic. Of the 256 caregivers (93%) who completed the survey, 67% responded that they alternated acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen. The frequency varied: every 2 hours (9%), every 3 hours (16%), every 4 hours (43%), every 6 hours (23%) and other (8%). Of these, 81% stated that their health care provider/pediatrician advised them to alternate acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen; 8% stated that nobody advised them. Only 61% received written instructions on how to dose antipyretics from their health care provider. Most caregivers of young children reported alternating acetaminophen and ibuprofen for fever reduction in their children. There was a wide variability of the dosing interval. Most learned this practice from their pediatrician/health care provider.

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