Google it?: Internet searches often provide inaccurate information about infant sleep safety

August 2, 2012

In 2010, 59% of the U.S. population used internet searches for health information, and parents searching for information regarding their children were among the top users. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published recommendations for infant sleep safety to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, strangulation, and other accidental sleep-related deaths. However, according to a study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, Google internet searches related to infant sleep safety often do not reflect AAP recommendations.

Seventy-two percent of adults thought that they could believe most or all of the health on the internet, and 70% of adults said that information that they found on the internet impacted their health or their actions pertaining to their health or the health of their children. According to Rachel Y. Moon, MD, pediatrician and SIDS researcher at Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC, "It is important for to realize the extent to which parents may turn to the internet for information about safety and then act on that advice, regardless of the reliability of the source."

Dr. Moon and colleagues from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Children's National Medical Center, and George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences checked the accuracy of information on infant sleep safety available on the internet, using , the top search engine in the U.S. Thirteen key phrases were created to reflect specific AAP recommendations for infant sleep safety, and the first 100 search engine websites were analyzed for each phrase (1300 websites total).

Of 1300 results, 43.5% provided accurate information, 28.1% provided inaccurate information, and 28.4% provided information that was not relevant to infant sleep safety. When the websites that were not relevant were excluded, 60.8% of the websites provided accurate information. The key search phrases with the highest percentage of accurate information were "infant cigarette smoking," "infant sleep position," and "infant sleep surface"; those with the highest percentage of inaccurate information were "pacifier infant," "infant home monitor," and "infant co-sleeping."

The most common types of websites resulting from the key search phrases were company/interest groups, retail product reviews, and educational websites. Government and organizational websites had the highest percentage of accurate information (80.1% and 72.5%, respectively). Blogs, retail product reviews, and individuals' websites had the highest percentage of inaccurate information regarding infant sleep safety (30.9%, 36.2%, and 45.5%, respectively). News websites were accurate only one-half of the time.

Explore further: New study reinforces need for continued infant sleep campaigns to prevent SIDS

More information: “Safe Infant Sleep Recommendations on the Internet: Let’s Google It” by Matthew Chung, BSc, Rosalind P. Oden, Brandi L. Joyner, MSA, Alexandra Sims, BA, Rachel Y. Moon, MD, appears in The Journal of Pediatrics, DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.06.004

Related Stories

New study reinforces need for continued infant sleep campaigns to prevent SIDS

October 17, 2011
New research reinforces the need for continued public education programs that encourage parents to place their infants to sleep in the supine (back) position in a safe crib or bassinet, to prevent an estimated 4,600 annual ...

Safe sleep environments key to preventing many infant deaths

April 19, 2012
Since 1992, the government's Back-to-Sleep Campaign has encouraged parents to place infants on their backs to sleep. Still, more than 4,500 infants die unexpectedly during sleep each year in the United States. Now, a University ...

Sleep disruption for breastfed babies is temporary

October 17, 2011
While breastfed babies initially awaken more during the night for feedings, their sleep patterns -- falling asleep, staying asleep and total sleep time -- stabilize in later infancy and become comparable to non-breastfed ...

Recommended for you

Higher blood sugar in early pregnancy raises baby's heart-defect risk

December 15, 2017
Higher blood sugar early in pregnancy raises the baby's risk of a congenital heart defect, even among mothers who do not have diabetes, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Injuries from window blinds send two children to the emergency department every day

December 11, 2017
Most homes have them. They help keep our rooms warm or cold and even add a pop of color to tie the décor together. But window blinds can cause serious injuries or even death to young children. A new study from the Center ...

Blood flow altered in brains of preterm newborns vs. full-term infants

December 4, 2017
Cerebral blood flow (CBF) of key regions of newborns' brains is altered in very premature infants and may provide an early warning sign of disturbed brain maturation well before such injury is visible on conventional imaging, ...

HPV vaccine is effective, safe 10 years after it's given

November 29, 2017
A decade of data on hundreds of boys and girls who received the HPV vaccine indicates the vaccine is safe and effective long term in protecting against the most virulent strains of the virus, researchers report.

Antibiotics administered during labor delay healthy gut bacteria in babies

November 28, 2017
Antibiotics administered during labour for Group B Streptococcus (GBS) affect the development of gut bacteria in babies, according to a study from McMaster University.

Stress in pregnancy linked to changes in infant's nervous system, less smiling, less resilience

November 23, 2017
Maternal stress during the second trimester of pregnancy may influence the nervous system of the developing child, both before and after birth, and may have subtle effects on temperament, resulting in less smiling and engagement, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.