One in eight parents goes online for medical information about their child's condition before taking the child to the emergency room, according to new research.
What's more, many parents would willingly visit sites recommended by their child's doctor -- which means pediatricians should be prepared to offer advice on this topic, according to Dr. Purvi Shroff from the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
She presented her findings on Friday at the 2011 national conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics in Boston.
Dr. Shroff and her team interviewed 240 parents or guardians with Internet access who brought their child to the ER.
They found 12 percent of the parents had consulted the Web about their kid's trouble during the past 24 hours, while half said they had used the Internet at least once in the previous three months for a health-related question about their child.
The most common websites were WebMD and Wikipedia, but few parents used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, run by the government, or the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website.
The majority of parent Internet users said they were highly likely to visit a website that was recommended by their child's doctor.
"Being invested in your child's health and wanting to learn more and make the best decision for your child is always a good thing. However, when it comes to using the Internet, appropriate use depends on accessing good websites and knowing whether or not the information you find is applicable to your child," Dr. Shroff told Reuters Health.
It is important, she added, that parents be able to talk to pediatricians about what they read on the Internet, and for the pediatrician to place it in context for each child.