(NEW YORK) — Feeling lucky? A new study shows you might need it if you’re “googling” medical advice instead of asking your doctor.
In a study of 1,300 Google search results related to infant sleep safety, researchers found that only 43.5 percent of websites provided accurate information. The rest were either inaccurate or irrelevant.
“It is important for health care providers to realize the extent to which parents may turn to the Internet for information about infant sleep safety and then act on that advice, regardless of the reliability of the source,” said Dr. Rachel Moon, the pediatrician who led the research effort published in the Journal of Pediatrics.
Moon, a Sudden Infant Death Syndrome researcher at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., used 13 search phrases related to infant sleep safety, including “infant sleep position,” and “pacifier infant” to conduct her study. Moon and her team analyzed the first 100 Google results for each phrase, and deemed them accurate if they matched up-to-date recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Moon’s colleague, Brandi Joyner, told ABC News she regularly tells patients to double-check their online sources’ validity before acting on the advice. Joyner is a clinical research coordinator at Children’s National Medical Center and health educator at the Children’s National WIC clinic in Washington, D.C., where she tells women how to keep their children safe even at naptime and bedtime.
“If you want to turn to the Internet, make sure the website is ending in .gov or .org or .state,” Joyner said.
The most accurate sites were from government organizations, which were accurate 80.1 percent of the time, according to the study. Researchers found that the least accurate websites were blogs, which were only accurate 30.9 percent of the time.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Julie Wootton, Times-News
Allison Pond, Deseret News