Characteristics and management of febrile young children seen in a university family practice

J Fam Pract. 1985 Aug;21(2):117-22.


A cohort of 311 children registered with the University of Washington Family Medical Center was retrospectively identified and followed until the age of 2 years. Analysis of all encounters for which a temperature of 37.7 degrees C (100 degrees F) or above was noted revealed 438 such encounters among 189 patients. Only 30 encounters involved patients aged under 3 months, and in 74 percent of the encounters the temperature was below 38.9 degrees C (102 degrees F). The most common diagnoses were otitis media (34 percent), upper respiratory tract infection (19 percent), fever without a source (14 percent), and acute gastroenteritis (7 percent). While antibiotic usage, follow-up, and laboratory utilization all increased with increasing temperature, the latter was unrelated to a child's age. Laboratory evaluation of children considered at high risk for occult illness did not adhere to published guidelines. A more aggressive laboratory approach is recommended for such children, as is follow-up contact. Further studies to evaluate the risk of occult illnesses in febrile children seen in family medicine settings would be helpful in refining and improving management strategies in these settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Fever / diagnosis*
  • Fever / etiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastroenteritis / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Otitis Media / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious / diagnosis