North Texas

Facebook Health Advice Can Lead to Unexpected Consequences

Your child's pediatrician may have a warning about what you post on Facebook.

Facebook "moms" groups are online communities often run by moms, where women post anything relevant about being a parent in North Texas. They're designed to be supportive networks, but doctors say moms looking for medical advice can create unexpected consequences.

Just about every suburb has a closed Facebook group for its mothers, and in seconds a quick search will yield questions and pictures of symptoms, rashes and illnesses posted by mothers concerned about their children.

While it may seem harmless, Dr. Matthew Simon, a pediatrician with Texas Health Resources, says he's seen solicited online advice lead to the hospital.

"My baby had a mild rash. I went online and someone told me it could be a serious infection, so I went to the emergency room and that was totally unnecessary," Simon said, describing one of his patients' experiences.

"The village is great for support. It does take a village to raise children, but that village may not be the source of medical advice," Simon said.

He says mothers should trust their instinct and contact a doctor, whether or not her groups' members advise otherwise.

He also advises against posting pictures of your child, unless "you want the whole world to see it."

First-time mom Rebecca Pearce says she's logged on to the internet before for guidance, but decided against following the advice, while well-meaning, from strangers.

For her, online moms groups are meant to support, not diagnose.

"There's good times and there's bad times, and there's funny times, so it's just helpful to know that everyone is going through it," Pearce said.

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