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Don't Trust 'Dr. Google' for Help on Infant Sleep Safety
Date:8/3/2012

FRIDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that parents shouldn't trust a Google search for accurate information on infant sleep safety.

These Web searches commonly turned up results that contradicted current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics aimed at reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, strangulation and other accidental sleep-related deaths, the study found.

What is particularly worrisome, the researchers said, is that 72 percent of adults say they trust most or all of the health information they find on the Internet.

The study was published Aug. 2 in the Journal of Pediatrics.

"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," Dr. Rachel Moon, pediatrician and SIDS researcher at Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C., said in a journal news release.

Moon and her team used Google, the leading Internet search engine in the United States, to test the accuracy of information on infant sleep safety available on the Web.

They performed the Google searches using 13 key phrases based on specific recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on infant sleep safety. The researchers analyzed the top 100 search results for each phrase, which included a total 1,300 websites.

According to the study, 43.5 percent of the websites provided accurate information. But just over 28 percent of the search results provided inaccurate information, and about the same number provided information that had nothing to do with infant sleep safety.

After discounting the irrelevant websites, the researchers found that about 61 percent of the websites provided information that was in line with the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
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