Using Google to help diagnose ill children is highly unlikely to provide sound medical advice, researchers have found.
Scientists at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust used the search engine to ask for guidance on a number of common issues, including breastfeeding and autism, finding that only 200 of the 500 sites polled offered useful information.
Of this number, only Government-run services were completely reliable. The quality of advice offered by other sites varied wildly, with half failing to answer the intended question.
The research, prompted by an increased use of the internet to investigate illnesses, expressed concern at the bewildering amount of guidance on offer, much of it inaccurate and some of it even dangerous.
An earlier study looking at advice for children with a fever found only three out of 22 sites visited gave information which matched current “best practice” guidelines.
Around 70% of UK households now have internet access.