Most parents don’t always follow pediatricians’ advice

Are parents setting a good example by following doctors’ orders for their kids? Not so much, according to new research.

Two-thirds of parents say they don’t always follow advice from their child’s health care provider, according to new findings from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. Just 31 percent of parents said they follow advice from their child’s health care provider all of the time, and 13 percent said they follow the provider’s advice only occasionally. More than half (56 percent) said they follow provider’s advice “most of the time.”

The topics on which they are most likely to follow advice are nutrition, going to the dentist, and using car seats/booster seats. They are least likely to follow advice on discipline (40 percent), putting the child to sleep (18 percent) and watching TV (13 percent).

“Parents need to ask for clarification if they are unsure about what the provider is saying, or why it’s important,” says Matthew Davis, director of the poll. “Providers should work on using clear language, asking parents about their concerns, and giving practical examples of what works with children of different ages.”

Following advice was also linked with income—parents from lower-income households (less than $60,000 annually) were more than twice as likely to say they follow provider advice occasionally (17 percent), compared to parents from higher-income households (8 percent).

That’s an especially concerning finding, says researcher Sarah Clark, because children in lower income or non-white families are known to have higher rates of health problems such as obesity, SIDS and tooth decay.

Overall, not following advice can put kids at risk for long-lasting health concerns, Clark warns.

For example, childhood obesity has been linked to parents allowing the over-consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and excessive TV watching. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is associated with putting infants to sleep in the prone position.

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