Can You Trust This “Study”?
More than ever before, parents have an incredible amount of information at their fingertips. With nearly one million studies published each year, how can you tell when the study results are based on facts and not opinion or shock value?
When someone makes a claim, you should examine it using the tried-and-true approach of asking Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. And remember, ALL information gathered from online sources must be supplemented with a discussion with your infant’s pediatrician.
Question: Who reviewed the study before it was published?
When answering this question, use one of the standards scientists use to evaluate studies - whether or not it has gone through a peer-review. This important process allows for professionals in the field to provide an impartial review of the research, raise questions, and suggest clarity on certain areas. If a study is peer-reviewed, the methodology used is reputable. However, if you think the study’s findings are relevant to your little one, consult with their pediatrician.
Question: What does the science say?
Don’t let the headline scare you! Attention-grabbing headlines often sound scary and frequently oversimplify the findings of complicated research, especially when it’s related to infant nutrition. So read past the headline and let the real facts help you determine how to interpret the study results and decide if there is a true concern regarding the health of your family.
Question: Where did you learn about the study?
Most parents are connected digitally, with instant access to a wide variety of information. Begin with websites that provide doctor-approved materials and balanced, scientifically-proven information. Websites associated with reputable institutions, such as healthcare organizations, government agencies, credible news outlets or respected universities are reliable.
Question: When was the study released?
Have you ever clicked on an article from your Twitter feed and realized it was recirculated from five years ago? The release date will determine whether the information is still relevant. Sometimes studies that have been done years, or even decades ago, quietly resurface in order to try and raise attention about an issue. But a dated study may not reflect the most recent science on this issue, and thus mislead readers. Checking the published time stamp is a quick way for readers to determine if the information is current.
Question: Why was the study conducted?
The purpose of the study will help readers determine why the research was conducted, and whether the findings contribute to the understanding of the issue. All studies and reports should be judged based on the substance of their findings, not just a media headline. If a resource publishes a study to steer you in one direction, you might want to look elsewhere.
Question: How are the facts being interpreted?
Understanding whether appropriate scientific methodology was used can help you evaluate the credibility of the study results. Reputable research eliminates as much guessing as possible, and reduces the risk that preference, bias, or even chance were responsible for the effect or results. Credible studies may be referenced as blinded, controlled, or randomized. Don’t forget to ask the experts! Your OBGYN, pediatrician or a registered nurse will help determine what information is reliable when it comes to safe infant feeding.
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