It’s Emergency Medical Services for Children Day — be sure to thank your local first responders! And keep reading for my top five sources for health information for you and your kids.
Finding quality health information online is a challenge in the era of Dr. Google. During my library degree program, I did a fair amount of coursework in the field of health sciences librarianship, and these are my top five sources for health information for both parents and their kids.
This article is not professional medical advice. If you have a medical question, ask your doctor. If you have an emergency situation, dial 911 for your local emergency services.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been taking some hits in terms of credibility over the course of the pandemic, but it is still a great source of information. For example, see this easy-to-read schedule of vaccinations for your child — it also has a handy guide to what diseases the vaccines prevent, and how those diseases are spread!
Drugs.com is a fantastic resource for finding information about the drugs your doctor prescribes for you or your child. There is an alphabetical index, as well as a side effect checker. The page for each drug has a consumer-friendly summary of side effects, as well as the full list used by professionals. Medication pages are reviewed by a medical professional, and the name of the professional, their credentials, and the date the page was last reviewed are all clearly stated at the top of the page. Just remember: if a doctor has prescribed a medication for your child, they think the advantages of that drug outweigh the disadvantages. No information on the internet, no matter how good, is a substitute for talking to your doctor.
Being a parent is exciting, but also expensive, and the cost of drugs your child may need doesn’t help. GoodRx will help you compare prices so that you can find the lowest price for the drugs you need. GoodRx also has a discount card that can help you save some money. (Note: a GoodRx savings card is not, and does not replace, health insurance.)
Healthline is a commercial medical information and health site, somewhat similar to the more well-known WebMD. However, Healthline has, in my opinion, some very significant advantages over WebMD.
Specifically, medical content on Healthline is reviewed by a medical professional, and the byline of each article clearly states the name and credentials of the reviewer. The site also clearly states where they may be earning income from affiliate links, and advertisements are easily differentiated from the actual content.
The same cannot be said of WebMD. To be fair, WebMD does have articles reviewed by medical professionals, alongside other content and advertisements. However, the site organizes its content in such a way that it is easy for users to click an advertisement or land on a page that has not been medically reviewed, without realizing they have left the page that IS medically reviewed. This is a potential hazard for parents trying to find the best actionable information for their kids’ health.
In sum, both Healthline and WebMD use the same general model, but Healthline offers better accountability for its content. As an example, check out this article on choosing a pediatrician.
The Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases is a mailing list operated by the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID). You can sign up for the mailing list, or you can view posts on their website. Some of the information is definitely targeted towards medical professionals, but they also include consumer-friendly articles from popular media. This is a great tool for parents, because everybody knows that kids excel at picking up all kinds of ailments. For just one example, the E. Coli outbreak affecting kids in Washington state was reported on ProMED.
Even if you don’t read the entirety of every post, it is still helpful for getting a sense of what diseases may be popping up in your geographical area.
I hope this post has been helpful, and I’ll see you next time!