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 in The Journal of Pediatrics, Google Internet searches related to infant sleep safety often do not reflect AAP recommendations.
The study noted that 72% of adults thought that they could believe most or all of the health information 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 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."
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 Google. Thirteen key phrases were created to reflect specific AAP recommendations for infant sleep safety, and the first 100 search engine Web sites were analyzed for each phrase (1,300 Web sites total).
Of 1,300 Web site 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 Web sites that were not relevant were excluded, 60.8% of the sites provided accurate information.