Friday, 3 October 2014

Dr. Google Doesn't Always Get it Right!

Do you rely on 'Dr Google' for advice about your baby?

It's something many mums do and there is no doubt that the internet has become a fantastic resource for information and building connections and support networks with others going through the same as you, but it brings with it a danger too.

How reliable is the advice you're getting? How can you tell if what you are being told is correct, or putting your baby in more danger?

We've seen it ourselves over and over again on the issue of bumpers; web pages and blogs recommending them as a way to get more sleep, forums full of mums saying 'it's all scaremongering, bumpers are fine', facebook pages giving out misleading information by recommending alternative types of bumpers without pointing out the associated risks, or mis-quoting the correct advice.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month so there has been a real influx of 'advice' appearing on line over the last couple of days and that is likely to continue for the rest of the month. That should be something to celebrate, any new advice reaching parents is great news right? Wrong!! Some of you have drawn our attention to some very well meaning, but ultimately inaccurate and dangerous advice that is circulating on facebook and various blogs at the moment concerning everything from bumpers to blind cords, from pregnancy problems to vaccinations, from safe sleep to SIDS.

Please be aware that not everything you read on the internet is correct. The majority of these pages are simply misguided rather than malicious, but incorrect information can have disastrous consequences, regardless of intent.

A study published in 2012 by Matthew Chung, BSc, Rosalind P. Oden, Brandi L. Joyner, MSA, Alexandra Sims, BA and Rachel Y. Moon, MD found that overall, only 43.5% of the 1300 web pages looked at for the study provided accurate information.
With a survey in 2010 showing that almost 70% of adults reported that information found online has affected their health decisions or actions this is particularly worrying.

The study 'Safe Infant Sleep Recommendations on the Internet: Let's Google It' found the key phrases associated with the highest percentage of Web sites with accurate information were “infant cigarette smoking” (82% accurate), “infant sleep position” (74% accurate), and “infant sleep surface” (73% accurate). For each of the other 10 key phrase searches, less than 58% of the Web sites (range, 14%-58%) contained accurate information. The key phrases yielding the highest percentage of Web sites with inaccurate information were “pacifier infant” (14% accurate), “infant home monitors” (18% accurate), and “infant co-sleeping” (20% accurate).

They looked at 13 key elements relating to safe sleep

Sleep position- Back position only for all periods of sleep.
Side sleeping is not advised.
Sleep surface-Infant sleep surface Infants should sleep on a firm sleep surface.
No soft materials or objects- (ie, pillows, quilts, comforters) should be placed under infant.
A firm crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet, is the only recommended sleeping surface.
Bedding- safe infant bedding No soft objects or loose bedding should be on or in bed.
Bumper pads should not be used.
Smoking- No smoking during pregnancy. Infant should not be exposed to second hand smoke.
Room sharing- The risk of SIDS is decreased if the infant sleeps in the same room as the parent.
Pacifier- Pacifiers have been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. For breast-fed infant, delay until 1 month to ensure that breast-feeding is established.
Overheating- Infants should be lightly clothed for sleep. Infants should be dressed similar to how parent/guardian is dressed. Overbundling should be avoided; infant should not be hot to the touch.
Infant products SIDS products-Avoid products marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS. Do not use home monitors as a risk reduction method.
Bed sharing- Infants should always sleep alone on own sleep surface.

Keep in mind that the Internet has a lot of information that is outdated or just plain wrong. As a parent, you need to evaluate health information on the Internet, or anywhere else, with a sceptical and informed eye. Look for facts, not just opinions. We all have opinions on a subject and there is nothing wrong with expressing them, the problems begin when those opinions are presented as facts rather than being backed up with facts. Have they provided links to original sources? Have they referenced experts?

If something you read confuses you, or doesn't seem right, ask your health care provider for more information (although bear in mind they may not be completely up to date either! -but that's another issue). Double check, cross reference. Ask the admin of the site you are using, they should be able to give you further details. If they can't be wary. They may not know as much as they imply.

Here at Justice for Preston we are not experts, we have never claimed to be, but we are parents who are committed to safe sleep for our babies. Our research is on going and we are learning all the time. We will always pass that information on to you, because if the information about the dangers of bumpers had been more widely known Preston would still be here. We will always double check our information and will provide our sources so you can read and study further if you wish. Our aim is, and has always been to raise awareness of all issues that could affect your babies safety, especially those connected to safe sleep.

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