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Teens turning to Internet for medical queries

The desire to access news immediately, the urge for confidentiality and embarrassment in asking questions on sexual problems drive many teens to health portals in their quest for answers to their health queries. Earlier it was the agony aunt column in magazines now it is the medical portals, which clarify the doubts and dispel the fears of the teens. More than 75% of teens surveyed, in a study in California and New York, used the Internet to find answers to questions nagging them. Some were personal queries and some were based on the academic projects that they were involved with. Topics most frequently researched include sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), diet, exercise, sexual behaviors, violence and alcohol use, among others. Boys were just as likely to turn on their computers in search of health-related answers as girls. Ethnicity, the mother's education, and the teen's own health status did not affect how often adolescents searched the Internet for answers. Results of the survey, which included more than 400 students, are being presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Adolescent Medicine in San Diego, California. Though it is to be welcomed that teens use the Internet to learn more on health, the flip side is that these teens rush to their own diagnosis based on what they see and read and invariably end up worrying unnecessarily.

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