Moms-to-be turn to the Web for advice

By • Published: August 11th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Pregnant women surf the web looking for cute baby clothes and furniture or to chat with other moms-to-be. But many are also looking for information on which to base health- and pregnancy-related decisions.

A new study in the journal Birth shows that almost half of pregnant women took to the Internet because they were dissatisfied with information their health-care provider had given them. Others went online for answers because they didn’t have time to ask questions in person.

The women aren’t just looking — they’re acting on what they find. According to the study, eighty-three percent made pregnancy decisions based on the information they found on the Web. And they felt more confident about those decisions after having checked the Internet.

From blogs to scientific papers to chat rooms and comments on news articles, innumerable bytes of information are posted to the Internet every day. Not all of it is correct, so mothers are advised to seek out reputable sites and to learn how to tell when a site is trustworthy.

To start, women can check what comes after the “dot” in the Web address. Government and university sites can be among the most reliable, and those usually end in “dot-gov” and “dot-e-d-u,” respectively. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, have “dot-gov” addresses. Nonprofit organizations generally have “dot-org” addresses, but beware — not all “dot-org” sites are reliable sources.

What seems clear is that there is a need for health professionals to guide pregnant women on finding, interpreting and applying information from the Internet. The good news? All that searching means moms are looking to give their babies the healthiest start.