With so many different types of thermometers on the market, it is important to know a product’s accuracy before testing one on your child. Forehead thermometers are a non-invasive system that uses infrared technology, providing the easiest and quickest measurements. For this reason, a high percentage of parents use it but research shows that forehead thermometers can be an inaccurate measurement of the core body temperature. HFR researched 3 reasons why these devices are inaccurate.
- Extremely dependent on external variables
Most pediatric practices do not recommend the use of forehead thermometers on children due to the external variables that can affect their measurements. A study posted on PubMed.Gov explains why: radiant warmers specifically can cause inaccuracy when using a forehead thermometer. Radiant warmers are used to help infants maintain normal body temperature, and if a forehead thermometer gets affected by the radiant warmer, it becomes completely useless when measuring a child’s temperature. However, this is not the only factor that can affect the measurements of a forehead thermometer. The National Institute of Health research said that a forehead thermometer’s readings can become inaccurate if the child’s forehead is sweating or if the child is moving. These two variables can be rather difficult to control when it comes to children. It is difficult to keep a child still, especially during a doctor’s visit, and sweat on the forehead is associated with fever.
When comparing three types of thermometers, a study found that forehead thermometers would measure inconsistently, varying within a range of 3 degrees Celsius. The top critical review on Amazon for the popular Braun Forehead Thermometer claims that the reviewer “took 5 readings within a 30-minute timeframe” and found that the temperatures ranged from 99.1 to 102.1, while the rectal thermometer measured their baby’s actual temperature at 102.4 degrees. Inconsistent and inaccurate readings like these can be life-threatening to infants. Forehead thermometers have also received poor reviews from a study published on PubMed.Gov. The study consults private pediatric practices and measures the temperature of children from 1 month to 24 months of age using tympanic (ear), forehead, and rectal thermometers. The results from this study showed that tympanic and forehead thermometers recorded temperatures lower than the rectal thermometer, but when comparing the tympanic with the forehead thermometer, the forehead thermometer had a wider range of total error.
- Scores The Lowest Amongst Other Thermometers
In a test done with oral, axillary, tympanic, and forehead thermometers, it was shown that tympanic was the most accurate, while forehead thermometers did the worst. Overall, the less invasive the measurement, the less accurate it is. Understandably, forehead thermometers provide the easiest and fastest methods, but when measuring young infants, risking inaccurate temperatures can cause dangerous effects. Therefore, it is important to stick with tympanic thermometers due to their reliable accuracy.
A fever is your body’s way of fighting back, and it is actually a sign of healing. However, it can be different for children whose immune systems are not as strong. Different conditions can cause a fever, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if your child’s temperature is more than 100.4 °F (38 °C) you should call your physician or take them to the hospital to avoid further damage. Fever in children younger than 3 months can be signs of an infection and, if ignored or untreated, it can lead to brain damage if it reaches 108 degrees. If you are unsure about the health of your child, contact your pediatrician.