real life

A dangerous new Facebook trend that could put lives in jeopardy.

I have always thought that there are two types of mums when it comes to sick kids.

The panic early mums. You know them – the type who rushes their children off to the emergency ward at the first sign of a cough, or a swollen ankle. The type who are always in the doctor’s surgery waiting room every single time you are there making idle chit chat with the receptionist.

Oh you know us they say as you enter trying to wipe that why-the-heck-are-you-always-here look off your face someone is always sick in our family. 

And then there are the ones (like me) who tend to leave their poor children to suffer unless they are bleeding or vomiting up blood

(Jokes people calm down. I’m not that bad. Well, mostly not)

Rashes. They are often about rashes.

But I have recently noticed a growing proportion of another type of mum.

A gravely concerning type when it comes to their children's health – the social media consulters.

I am sure you have come across them too.

The ones who post these types of questions on Facebook.

“Ladies I need some advice. My nine-month old is vomiting and has this rash? Any clues what it might be?”

or this

“Help. My three-year old has a strange cough and is quite pale. ( Do you think nearly blue?) I have pulled my car out ready to head to emergency (just in case) but just wanted to consult my fellow mums?”

Followed by an image of a ghostly looking child asleep on a flowery couch.

What should they do? They post.

What would you suggest?

Any advice?

Well actually I do have some advice and it’s blunt.

Get the f**k off Facebook and go to the bloody hospital.

Get your fingers off your phone and ring your GP.

Call an after-hours doctor for a home visit.

Ring a helpline staffed by you, know, those people with actual medical degrees.

I don’t get it.

What should I do? They post. Any advice?

It seems to me to be a dangerous and growing trend and one that could, if it hasn’t actually happened already be putting lives in danger.

Here is some totally unqualified, but very funny advice for new parents. (Post continues after video.)

Video via JC Van Luyn

Well intentioned loving parents second guessing their own intution and placing the health of their child in the hands of unqualified strangers.

Those who are qualified usually stay well clear of offering medical advice online, unless anonymously, for legal and ethical reasons.

Friends of mine who are doctors tell me their first wish is that someone would just beg the mother posting the question about her child's health to get off line and speak to someone face-to-face.

Even to those of us who wait till the last possible minute to take their kids to the GP. (It’s just a cough, or I will wait till he limps for a few days and see if he needs an X-Ray.) If my baby woke sick in the night, vomiting, with a rash, if his lips were blue-ish and his breathing sounded kinda off I couldn’t imagine heading to Facebook for a quick consultation before I dialled Triple O.

Have these mums forgotten that there is a whole legion of professionals trained to solve these problems for you?

Doctors, nurses, specialists. In a large expensive building known as a hospital.

In my own hours of lurking in Facebook parenting groups I have found that the majority of these posts involve rashes, fevers or injuries.

The post usually contains an image of said rash/ fevered sleepy child/ or the bloody or weeping injury and a question as to whether it is life threatening ( should I call an ambulance ya think?) and what treatments the other mums suggest from their own experience.

The posts are predictable.

There is usually one mum who offers some kind of holistic suggestion.

Miraculous organic goats weed cream available online from a yak trader in Nepal.

Another few who tell the OP (original poster) that the rash/ cough/ broken limb hanging by a sliver of bone is nothing and she is over-reacting.

There are some who offer dangerous or outdated suggestions. *Butter on burns they cry much to the horror of anyone with a grain of intelligence.

(*Note: never apply butter to a burn.)

There are some genuinely helpful mums who offer their unqualified medical opinions usually vastly different and vastly incorrect.

And then there are one or two (thank god) who beg the original poster to go to a real doctor.

How about you go to a say, doctor at a er, hospital? That's my advice.

What we all need to remember is that there are things that absolutely should be discussed on Facebook.

Whether mums should jog in bikinis (if they want to).

Kim Kardashian’s latest maternity outfit (how does she keep up that top?)

Where to buy school shoes, how to hand out party invitations when not all the class is invited and of course it is totally legitimate to post a list of chores that your husband didn’t do last week and tell your closest 10,000 friends how unless the garbage gets put out neither will you.

But when it comes to medical advice what do you say we all start a campaign to leave it to the experts.

Have you ever sought out medical advice on Facebook? Did it help?