Take medical advice from a parenting Facebook group? Why doctors say you shouldn’t


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Want to share a milestone? Need some advice? How about just some support? There’s pretty much a Facebook parenting page for any area of town. 

“It’s a community. It’s a village,” explains Dot Aikman-Richard who’s a mom of two. “I don’t think that I would’ve gotten through my first seven years of parenting without my village.”

Aikman-Richard is with Austin Moms’ Village. The Facebook page was created to help moms navigate parenthood. She says for some parents it’s the best place for support. 

If you scroll on some of the pages, parents are often asking about medical advice to treat everything including the flu, a cold and even allergies. One posts reads, “Home remedies for stopping flu from progressing?” Comments on the post range from using elderberry to a turmeric supplement to echinacea. 

Some doctors worry the advice could be dangerous. A Colorado family faces backlash after getting similar advice on a Facebook group. Members urged the mom not to give her son Tamiflu. Instead, their advice was to treat it with thyme and elderberries. The boy later died from the flu. 

“The home remedy has always been used over the last few centuries. You can try that, but if a child is that gravely ill that they are running 101 fever, they need to be seen,” says Guadalupe Zamora with Zamora Medical Center. 

Dr. Zamora says it’s been a tough flu season so far. In  Texas, there are 15 confirmed pediatric flu-related deaths this year. One case is from central Texas, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

Some of the Facebook groups have rules when it comes to giving medical advice. One says “No Medical Questions,” and to contact a doctor first for any medical concerns, but not all follow those guidelines. 

“Use your resources as best you can, but also have a medical home that you can call or you can speak to a nurse, you can speak to a physician to give you some sound medical advice,” says Dr. Zamora. 

Aikman-Richard says on their Facebook page when there are medical questions they always respond back to consult a doctor. On most sites, you can flag a questionable post for the administrator. 

“We are not doctors we are just moms and we have experience in different things, but if things get to the point… where you’re really concerned about your child’s safety and health, a moms group probably isn’t the best place to go to,” says Aikman-Richard.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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