MONDAY, March 25, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Only one-third of American parents with young children always follow the advice given by their child's doctor, a new survey finds.
Thirteen percent said they follow such guidance only occasionally, and 56 percent said they almost always followed recommendations from their child's doctor, according to the University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.
Compared with parents from higher-income households, those in households with incomes of less than $60,000 a year were more than twice as likely to say they followed doctors' advice only occasionally (8 percent versus 17 percent, respectively).
Twenty-two percent of black parents and 18 percent of Hispanic parents were likely to follow doctors' recommendations only occasionally, compared with 9 percent of white parents, according to the survey of 907 parents with children from infants to 8 years old.
Among parents who follow their child's doctor's advice only occasionally, they said they were most likely to follow advice about nutrition, going to the dentist and using car seats/booster seats. They were least likely to follow recommendations about discipline, sleep and television viewing.
"During well-child visits, health care providers give parents and guardians advice about how to keep their kids healthy and safe. This poll suggests that many parents aren't heeding that advice consistently, putting kids at risk for long-lasting health concerns," Sarah Clark, associate director of the child health evaluation and research unit at the University of Michigan, said in a university news release.
Clark, also associate director of the poll, noted that many major health risks for children are closely connected with parenting behaviors. Childhood obesity has been linked to parents allowing children to watch too much TV and drink sugar-sweetened beverages, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is associated with putting infants to sleep on their stomachs.
"Even more concerning is that certain populations -- poorer families, non-white families -- were more likely to report following advice only occasionally. The children in these populations are known to have higher rates of health problems such as obesity, SIDS and tooth decay," Clark said.
Parents' ratings of the quality of care received by their children is closely linked to whether they follow their doctor's advice, the researchers found. For instance, among parents who rate their child's doctor as good/fair/poor, 46 percent follow the doctor's advice only occasionally.
"This poll suggests that parents need to ask for clarification if they are unsure about what the provider is saying, or why it's important. Providers should work on using clear language, asking parents about their concerns, and giving practical examples of what works with children of different ages," Dr. Matthew Davis, director of the poll, said in the news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the ABCs of raising safe and healthy children.