Be careful what you Google for: Parents warned half of baby health advice online is wrong
Experts analysed the results from the top 100 websites for 13 popular search terms about child sleep safety



16:45 GMT, 3 August 2012

Parents who search for baby health advice should be warned – nearly half of the information they find may be inaccurate.

Researchers studied the information brought up by Google using the most popular search terms on child sleep safety.

They compared the results from 1,300 websites with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on how to reduce the risk of cot death or other accidental sleep-related deaths.

Searching: Parents must double-check child safety advice they find online, say experts

Searching: Parents must double-check child safety advice they find online, say experts

Key search phrases included 'infant cigarette smoking,' 'infant sleep position,' and 'pacifier infant.'

The study, revealed that only 43.5 per cent of the sites provided accurate information, more than a quarter provided irrelevant guidance while 28.1 per cent provided inaccurate information.

When the websites that were not relevant were excluded, 39.2 per cent of the websites provided inaccurate information.

Study leader Dr Rachel Moon from the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, said: 'It is important for health care providers to realise 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.'

The researchers said government websites were the most accurate getting accurate information with 80.1 per cent. However blogs had the lowest with only 30.9 per cent accuracy.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Frisca Yan-Go from UCLA, said many of her patients falsely believed it was safe to sleep in bed with their baby, which could actually result in suffocation.

She told ABC News: 'It's good to have the Internet, but wrong information or bad information is worse than no information.'

In 2010, 59 per cent of the U.S.
population used internet searches for health information, and parents
searching for information regarding their children were among the top
users. Seventy two per cent of adults thought that they could believe
most or all it.

The researchers said they did not want to discourage parents from seeking out information, but advised them to double check their findings. Charity websites that end in .org or government websites ending in .gov are reputable sources.

Their study is to be published in The Journal of Pediatrics.