Wide Range of Accuracy in Web-Based Infant Sleep Advice

(HealthDay News) – The accuracy of infant sleep recommendations found on the Internet varies by search terms used and type of Web site.

To assess the accuracy of information on infant sleep safety on the Internet using Google, Matthew Chung, from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia, and colleagues analyzed the first 100 Web sites shown in search results for infant sleep advice using 13 key phrases. The accuracy of information was classified as accurate, inaccurate, or not relevant, based on American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations.

The researchers found that, of the 1,300 Web sites, 43.5% provided accurate information, 28.1% provided inaccurate information, and 28.4% were not relevant. The highest percentage of Web sites with accurate information was found using the search terms "infant cigarette smoking," "infant sleep position," and "infant sleep surface," while the lowest percentage of Web sites with accurate information was found for the search terms "pacifier infant," "infant home monitors," and "infant co-sleeping." The highest rate of accuracy was seen on government Web sites, while blogs had the lowest accuracy.

"In conclusion, we found that health- and medical-related Web sites frequently contain inaccurate information about infant sleep safety," the authors write. "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 the advice found, regardless of the reliability of the source."

One author disclosed serving as an expert witness in cases pertaining to sudden infant death syndrome.

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