Do You Follow Your Child's Doctor's Advice?

Do You Follow Your Child's Doctor's Advice?

Do you follow your child's doctor's advice? If not, you're not alone but you may be setting your child up for future health problems according to a new study.

The study showed that 56 %, about two-thirds, of parents said they followed the doctor's advice most of the time, and 13% said they followed it only occasionally.

The findings were produced by, the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health. 

One possible reason as to why parents didn't always follow their child's doctor's advice was how well they related to their medical provider. Among parents who rated their children's doctor as excellent or talking to me in a way I can understand, 6 % said they followed the advice only occasionally. But 46% who rated their doctor as good, fair or poor said they also followed his or her advice only occasionally.

"Parents need to ask for clarification if they are unsure about what the provider is saying, or why it's important," said Dr. Matthew Davis, director of the poll. Doctors should use clear language, ask parents about their concerns, and give practical examples of what works with children, he said.

That last point cannot be emphasized enough. While parents need to speak up if they don't understand what the doctor is telling them, providers need to take the time to ask the parents questions to make sure they understand what is being said and why. Too often parents say they feel they are being rushed out of the exam room and receive information that is given to them in doctor speak and not common language.

What advice are parents more likely to heed? The studys results say that recommendations on nutrition, dentist visits and using car seats.

What recommendations were parents least likely to follow? 40 % said they didn't follow advice on discipline,  18% said they didn't follow advice on sleeping recommendations and 13% didn't follow advice about watching too much TV.

Income also seemed to play a role in following advice. Lower-income households (less than $60,000 a year), were more than twice as likely to say they followed their child's doctor's advice only occasionally (17%) as compared to 8% of parents from higher-income households. 

Sarah J. Clark, associate director of the poll, said parents who do not follow advice consistently may be putting their child's health at risk for long-lasting health problems.

For instance, studies have shown that children who do not get enough sleep have trouble focusing in school and have less control over their emotions. Drinking too many sugary drinks and spending a lot of time in front of the TV have been linked to childhood obesity. Putting babies to sleep on their stomachs has been linked with an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Paying attention to your child's doctor could keep your little one safer and healthier. If you have questions don't be shy, speak up and make sure you understand what you are being told and why. If you don't feel like you're receiving the kind of care your child needs, look for another provider. Pediatrician's and general care physicians have lots of science-based advice on a large assortment of topics that can benefit your child and family.

The poll included a national sample of parents of children up to age 8. 

Source: Karen Rowan,

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