Use Caution When Seeking Medical Information on These Topics

If you have a question and don’t know what to turn to, a Google search for health information is overwhelming. Some topics will lead you to the right information, but for others, the real answers to your questions are hidden under the results pages for pseudoscience and conspiracy theories.

As reported by Rene DiResta at Wired , vitamin K injections are one of them. This is a common birth vaccine for a very good reason: Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, and babies are born with vitamin K deficiency. They will soon catch up on their own, but if they have bleeding problems First days of life, such as surgery or any internal bleeding , a child who has not been vaccinated is at serious risk of dying a preventable death.

Pediatricians, obstetricians, public health experts, and just about any other legitimate healthcare provider or researcher can tell you that getting a vitamin K vaccine is a simple task: it provides tremendous benefits with almost no risk. Organizations like the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have web pages that patiently explain this. But if you just google “vitamin K shot,” the results pages are split roughly 50/50 between the results you’re looking for and anti-shot arguments written by charlatans and ill-informed blogger moms.

When I tested in incognito mode, Bing was better than Google at showing reliable results at the top of the page, but in both cases, the overall results page was cluttered. If you didn’t know, you would think that there was a legitimate debate on this topic.

DiResta compares this to no data because there is little real information. I’m not sure if this is the correct metaphor, because real things already exist. The problem is more that some people are very addicted to their favorite topics. Try looking for information about the Holocaust or Libya’s second largest city.

Skipping vitamin K shots is popular in natural parenting circles because it fits with the idea of ​​giving birth with minimal disruption (a great goal, within reason), and it’s also a chance so anyone suspicious of vaccines will get them winced.

Beware of these themes

The topics that are likely to surprise you with disinformation are those in which people are very concerned not only with their topic, but also with the opportunity to fit into the ideological camp. If you are going to defend a particular point of view, it is easy to get any information that seems to support you. Before you know it, you are writing a treatise arguing why this information should definitely be correct.

Therefore, be especially careful if searches lead you to the following territories:

  • Vaccines . While the link between vaccines and autism has never been real and has been repeatedly debunked , there are many parenting groups that continue to spread misinformation about vaccine safety. They sometimes call their websites and organizations by their official names.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth . We all want the best for our children, but we also want autonomy over our own bodies. Childbirth is medically risky, but also an ordeal that most people do just fine. In the meantime, there is plenty to choose from – a midwife or a doctor? Epidural anesthesia or not? – and you will find groups of people committed to the most natural childbirth, no matter what. These groups are at war with others who think that anything from the natural camp is useless. The mood is heating up.
  • Breastfeeding . This is a real multi-faceted conversation about the pros and cons of breastfeeding, formula feeding, and solid food administration options. But, again, there are camps that will defend breastfeeding at all costs, and others that will attack it with the same passion.
  • Metabolism and weight loss. Everyone has a theory about why we gain weight and why it is difficult to lose weight. These theories can be very detailed, and proponents of every dietary philosophy will claim that their theory explains everything .
  • Specific products that are “good” or “bad” for us . This topic is part of the previous one. People will tell you that carbs, beans, or nightshade are killing us all, or that coconut oil can literally cure everything.
  • Skin care . People end up with a preference for certain products or approaches and have unpleasant experiences that they interpret as cautionary tales. There is very little reliable science in this area (a veritable void of data), so people end up holding onto scraps of research and their own experiences and uniting in ideological camps to argue about why the St. Ives scrub is the devil, and other topics. we have been made to believe in the utmost importance.

It is impossible to make a complete list because there are amazing little hotbeds of passion around those you might not expect. I always take it as a red flag when people are very committed to an idea and I wonder why. Sometimes there is a good reason behind this; sometimes it’s just a conspiracy theory.

Where to find good information

When you see opposing points of view or passionate arguments, it is a good idea to refer to your main source for orientation. Not because it is the only good source of information, but because it is usually quite intelligent and you can expand from there. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the US government agency dealing with public health issues. (Just add “CDC” to your Google search like “Vitamin K CDC”)
  • – About the health of children and adolescents. This website is operated by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • MedlinePlus , which has information on health conditions, medications and nutritional supplements.
  • Cochrane summaries , summaries of mega-studies in plain language that combine the results of many previous studies to answer specific questions about treatment.

There are other sources of information on this list of trusted sources of health information , but you may not be able to answer all of the latest questions this way. Remember, real medical professionals, such as your doctor or your insurance company’s Nurse Hotline, are your best source for questions that really matter to your health.


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