Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Medical Information on the Internet

Just how accurate is the medical information parents find on the internet? A team of British doctors from Nottingham Hospital's Department of Pediatrics looked at this question by using the Google search engine to research five common pediatric issues. They studied the first 100 responses that came up for each question and categorized them as either consistent or inconsistent with current medical recommendations. Those that were not responsive to the specific question were listed as "no answer".

As reported in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, of the 500 total responses, only 39% of the responses were correct. The remainder were either incorrect (11%) or did not answer the question (49%). Of interest, government sites all gave correct information.

What does this mean for American parents seeking information about their child's health? Stick with websites that you have reason to trust -- for example the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics has a wealth of information for parents. And for accurate information on important questions, there is no substitute for speaking to your pediatrician or other health care professional. 

photo credit:  flickr

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