Effect of nutrition-related infodemics and social media on maternal experience: A nationwide survey in a low/middle income country.

Zein, M. M., N. Arafa, Mortada HF El-Shabrawi, Ola El-Sisi, and N. M. El-Koofy, "Effect of nutrition-related infodemics and social media on maternal experience: A nationwide survey in a low/middle income country.", World journal of clinical pediatrics, vol. 13, issue 1, pp. 89139, 2024.


BACKGROUND: Undernutrition is a crucial cause of morbidity and mortality among children in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs). A better understanding of maternal general healthy nutrition knowledge, as well as misbeliefs, is highly essential, especially in such settings. In the current era of infodemics, it is very strenuous for mothers to select not only the right source for maternal nutrition information but the correct information as well.

AIM: To assess maternal healthy nutritional knowledge and nutrition-related misbeliefs and misinformation in an LMIC, and to determine the sources of such information and their assessment methods.

METHODS: This cross-sectional analytical observational study enrolled 5148 randomly selected Egyptian mothers who had one or more children less than 15 years old. The data were collected through online questionnaire forms: One was for the general nutrition knowledge assessment, and the other was for the nutritional myth score. Sources of information and ways of evaluating internet sources using the Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose test were additionally analyzed.

RESULTS: The mean general nutrition knowledge score was 29 ± 9, with a percent score of 70.8% ± 12.1% (total score: 41). The median myth score was 9 (interquartile range: 6, 12; total score: 18). The primary sources of nutrition knowledge for the enrolled mothers were social media platforms (55%). Half of the mothers managed information for currency and authority, except for considering the author's contact information. More than 60% regularly checked information for accuracy and purpose. The mothers with significant nutrition knowledge checked periodically for the author's contact information ( = 0.012). The nutrition myth score was significantly lower among mothers who periodically checked the evidence of the information ( = 0.016). Mothers dependent on their healthcare providers as the primary source of their general nutritional knowledge were less likely to hold myths by 13% ( = 0.044). However, using social media increased the likelihood of having myths among mothers by approximately 1.2 ( = 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Social media platforms were found to be the primary source of maternal nutrition information in the current era of infodemics. However, healthcare providers were the only source for decreasing the incidence of maternal myths among the surveyed mothers.