A study of over 1,000 mothers released in the journal Pediatrics July 27 by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that many mothers reported receiving inaccurate and conflicting advice on caring for a new baby from medical professionals, family and the media. They also often didn't receive much advice from doctors on specific topics, like sleeping and vaccines.
"We know from prior studies that advice matters," said Staci Eisenberg, lead study author and a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, as reported by HealthDay.
Parents are more likely to apply the advice given from doctors and nurses when they "receive appropriate advice from multiple sources, such as family and physicians," she said, according to HealthDay.
However, researchers found that much of the advice new moms got — including from doctors, which was where most advice came from — contradicted many recommendations from AAP on topics pertaining to infant health and safety, like safe sleep positions for babies and the proper use of pacifiers.
Fifteen percent of the advice mothers reported receiving from doctors on breast-feeding and pacifiers didn't meet AAP recommendations, with 26 percent of advice on sleeping positions also being contradictory. Nearly 29 percent of mothers reported they received misinformation on where babies should sleep, as well, HealthDay wrote.
"In order for parents to make informed decisions about their baby's health and safety, it is important that they get information, and that the information is accurate," Eisenberg said.
The most inaccurate advice came from family members, with two-thirds of it being inconsistent with AAP guidelines, reported ABC Radio. The study also found that black mothers, Hispanic mothers and first-time mothers were most likely to receive accurate advice and information.
Less than half of the women reported using the media as a source of advice, with the exception of advice on breastfeeding; 70 percent said they used the media as a source on that. Most of the advice was not in accordance with AAP recommendations.
"I don't think too many people will be shocked to learn that medical advice found online or on an episode of Dr. Oz might be very different from the recommendations of pediatric medical experts or even unsupported by legitimate evidence," Clay Jones, a pediatrician in Massachusetts, told HealthDay.
Because there is no real regulation of what is shared on the Internet, any piece of advice can be shared for anybody to search and apply, Jones said. Consequences of using bad advice entirely depends on the advice and to which aspect of infant care it refers.
"It's worth noting that most of the women getting 'bad' advice actually received conflicting, rather than purely bad advice," reported ABC Radio. "In other words, they reported receiving at least two different recommendations from their doctors and, in the majority of cases, at least one of these recommendations was consistent with guidelines."
Parents of infants can visit the AAP website for specific guidelines on feeding, sleep, pacifiers, vaccines and other topics.
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