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Am J Emerg Med. 1997 Mar;15(2):188-92.

The efficacy of tepid sponge bathing to reduce fever in young children.

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College of Nursing, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721, USA.


Tepid sponge baths distress febrile children, and their efficacy at reducing fever has not been established. This study compared fever reduction and with (1) acetaminophen alone and (2) acetaminophen plus a 15-minute tepid sponge bath. Twenty children, ages 5 to 68 months, who presented to the emergency department or urgent care center with fever of > or = 38.9 degrees C were randomized to receive (1) acetaminophen alone or (2) acetaminophen plus a 15-minute tepid sponge bath. All subjects received a 15-mg/kg dose of acetaminophen. Tympanic temperature was monitored every 30 minutes for 2 hours. Subjects were monitored for signs of discomfort (crying, shivering, goosebumps). Sponge-bathed subjects cooled faster during the first hour but there was no significant temperature difference between the groups over the 2-hour study period (P = .871). Subjects in the sponge bath group had significantly higher discomfort scores (P = .009).

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