Following new research, scientists issue important tips for those finding health information online.>
A study indicating parents need to be more vigilant when searching for credible medical information independently online was presented at the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) conference in Istanbul earlier this month.
Led by Dr Nadeem Afzal of Southhampton General Hospital, Study on Phenotype and Parental Information of Children Investigated for Coeliac Disease at Endoscopy also found an alarming correlation between accessing medical health information and the increasing trend of ‘self diagnosis’ among individuals with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
"Dr Afzal and his colleagues found more than three quarters of parents (80%) accessed the internet for information on coeliac disease and were aware of it, but less than half correctly identified all gluten-containing foods and so would need help from doctors.
Nearly half of parents (45%) wrongly thought that maize contained gluten, whereas 98% correctly identified that gluten was in wheat. Overall, only 38% of parents correctly identified all gluten-containing foods.
‘Parents who start treating their child with a gluten-free diet independently make it much trickier for us,' the medic explained. 'Coeliac can only be diagnosed when children are on a gluten- containing diet. In such cases, we can end up re-challenging and delaying the diagnosis by several months. Once a diagnosis is made, correct treatment and education about it becomes crucial in getting the child back to 100%,’ he said.
‘But I do think parents making use of the internet is a very positive move and it reflects the age in which we live - we should embrace new technology as a useful starting point.’"
Dr. Afzal and his team encourage patients to do individual independent research using credible sources of information online, in conjunction with engaging in an open and honest conversation with trained medical professionals.
To read more about this research, click here:
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