Expectant moms turn to 'Dr. Google' for pregnancy advice

July 7, 2014

Pregnant women are using the Internet to seek answers to their medical questions more often than they would like, say Penn State researchers.

"We found that first-time moms were upset that their first prenatal visit did not occur until eight weeks into pregnancy," said Jennifer L. Kraschnewski, assistant professor of medicine and public health sciences, Penn State College of Medicine. "These women reported using Google and other search engines because they had a lot of questions at the beginning of pregnancy, before their first doctor's appointment."

Following the women's first visit to the obstetrician, many of them still turned to the Internet—in the form of both search engines and social media—to find answers to their questions, because they felt the literature the doctor's office gave them was insufficient.

Despite the rapid evolution of technology, the structure of prenatal care has changed little over the past century in the U.S., the researchers said.

Kraschnewski and colleagues set out to gather information to develop a for women to use during pregnancy, and incidentally discovered that many women were unsatisfied with the structure of their .

The researchers conducted four focus groups, totaling 17 —all of whom were over 18 and owned a smartphone. Most of the mothers-to-be agreed that the structure of prenatal visits are not responsive to their individual needs, so they turned to technology to fill their knowledge gaps, Kraschnewski and colleagues reported in a recent issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research. However, the women were unsatisfied by the questionable accuracy of the information they found online.

Many of the participants found the pamphlets and flyers that their doctors gave them, as well as the once popular book "What to Expect When You're Expecting," outdated and preferred receiving information in different formats. They would rather watch videos and use social media and pregnancy-tracking apps and websites.

"This research is important because we don't have a very good handle on what tools pregnant are using and how they engage with technology," said Kraschnewski, also an affiliate of the Penn State Institute for Diabetes and Obesity. "We have found that there is a real disconnect between what we're providing in the office and what the patient wants."

She pointed out that regulation of medical information on the Internet is rare, which could be problematic and lead to alarming patients unnecessarily. The researchers cited a 2008 study that found of the millions of websites that surface when searching for common terms, less than 4 percent were created or sponsored by physicians.

"Moving forward, in providing medical care we need to figure out how we can provide valid information to patients," said Kraschnewski. "We need to find sound resources on the Internet or develop our own sources."

Explore further: Attitude during pregnancy affects weight gain

Related Stories

Attitude during pregnancy affects weight gain

February 26, 2014
Overweight or obese women with the mentality that they are "eating for two" are more likely to experience excessive weight gain while pregnant, according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine.

Doctor's office—not Internet—still main source for infertility information

January 23, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—For a woman worried about why she hasn't become pregnant, the Internet and its anonymity might seem an appealing way to learn about infertility.

Overweight pregnant women not getting proper weight-gain advice

December 10, 2012
Overweight women are not receiving proper advice on healthy weight gains or appropriate exercise levels during their pregnancies, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

Pregnancy riskline warns about Internet inaccuracies

February 19, 2013
The Arizona Pregnancy Riskline, a service at the UA College of Pharmacy, warns about inaccurate information on the Internet in light of a recent study on the subject.

Breastfeeding initiation and success is impacted by diabetes status of mother

May 19, 2014
Women diagnosed with diabetes before or during pregnancy are less likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding their newborns than women without diabetes, a new study suggests. Led by clinician-scientists in The Research ...

Blood kisspeptin level test may identify pregnant women at high risk for miscarriage

June 23, 2014
Measuring pregnant women's blood kisspeptin levels early in their pregnancy may effectively predict their risk of miscarriage, a new study finds. The results were presented Saturday at ICE/ENDO 2014, the joint meeting of ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

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.