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Feature on whether doctors should pay more attention to parents’ instincts when children are ill

This feature highlights 2010 research which was co-authored by Dr Ann Van den Bruel, a GP and lecturer in clinical studies at the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford.

Dr Van den Bruel said: ‘When a GP asks a parent what they think, that answer should have diagnostic value. Because a parent will have had a lot of experience at seeing their children with illnesses like coughs and colds, if they raise serious concerns in a consultation, that should ring alarm bells. I don’t know if I would define this as a parent’s instinct — it comes more from experience. This parental input becomes very important in detecting serious illnesses like meningitis, when early symptoms are similar to minor illnesses and easy to miss.’

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