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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 42-45

Fever in children: Reliability of measurement by mother's touch

Department of Paediatrics, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria

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EAD Alikor
Department of Paediatrics, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospita, Port Harcourt
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OBJECTIVES: To determine the reliability of touch as a method of detection and measurement of fever in children. Specifically, the study is undertaken to determine the sensitivity, specificity and predictive values of touch as in detecting fever in children. METHODS: This was a prospective hospital-based study of 207 mother/infant pairs seen as outpatients in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt , Nigeria. The 3 minute timed rectal temperature of each child was taken using the mercury-in-glass clinical thermometer. The mother was asked to check an answer whether the child was febrile "NOW". Demographic and medical information was obtained through a structured questionnaire administered to the mother by face-to-face · interview. A child was taken as having fever if the temperature was 37.5΀C or above. Temperature below 37.5΀C is taken as afebrile. RESULT: Thirty seven percent of 202 mothers who participated in the study identified their children as having fever by the touch method, whilst the rest 63% felt that their children did not have fever. With the use of the thermometer, 146 (70% ) of 207 children were identified as having temperature of 37.5΀C or above. Sixty one (29.5%) had temperature below .5΀C . Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative pre'dictive values were calculated as 45.5%, 84.2%, 88% and 37% respectively. The -sensitivity was higher in the moderate to high grade fever than in the mildly febrile group. The specificity increased to 58.6% and 65.3% when temperatures of 37.8 and 38.0 were used as cut-off points in the definition of fever. CONCLUSIONS: From this study and the review of other works on the subject, it is concluded that detection and measurement of fever by mother's touch in our setting , although useful, need to be supplemented with measurement with a thermometer.

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