News / Ottawa

City launches new portal to weed out misinformation about parenting

The Internet might not be the best place to find credible medical information, so Ottawa Public Health is touting its new online portal as a go-to site for "reliable" parenting information.

The new site, parentinginottawa.com, includes information and tips on everything from vaccinations to mental health.

“There is a lot of questionable information on the web,” said Christa Poirier, an Ottawa Public Health nurse.

“This is a way that we can interact with parents, give them accurate information…and direct them to resources that are recent, accurate, to-date.”

Last month, Poirier said the OPH telephone line was flooded with calls from stressed parents inquiring about a possible measles outbreak in Ottawa.

A search for “immunization” on the new site links gives parents a breakdown of which vaccinations are needed and at what age as well as tips on how to reduce pain during vaccination.

Parents looking for an informal one-on-one consultation for advice can also visit the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page which launched in November.

Poirier runs the page with one other nurse at the moment on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

While Poirier encourages parents to interact with each other on the Facebook page, her team will also acts as moderators to prevent people from spreading misinformation to others.

She stresses that the page, however, is not meant to be a portal for diagnosing a health-related problem.

“I can’t do any diagnosing and it’s very difficult to assess via Facebook. I have to make sure that the information I’m getting is accurate and giving is accurate and those assessments can’t happen in that medium,” she said.

So far, nutrition has dominated the discussions on the page with curious parents looking for ways to eat healthier.

Poirier said the parent-to-parent interactions on social media is the biggest surprise since its launch.

"A mom who comes in and says, "I have nine children and this is what I've done and it's worked every time' -- that's invaluable," she said.

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