Sarah J. Clark of the University of Michigan -- associate director of the National Poll on Children's Health -- and colleagues polled 907 U.S. parents of children age 8 and younger, and found 56 percent of parents said they followed their child's doctor's advice most of the time, while 13 percent said they follow the provider's advice only occasionally.
The survey found only 31 percent said they followed advice from their child's healthcare provider all the time. Seventeen percent of parents from lower-income households -- less than $60,000 annually -- followed advice occasionally, compared to 8 percent of parents from higher-income households who followed advice occasionally.
Parents said they were most likely to follow advice concerning nutrition, dental care and using car seats/booster seats, and least likely to follow advice on discipline, bedtime and TV watching.
"During well-child visits, healthcare providers give parents and guardians advice about how to keep their kids healthy and safe," Clark said in a statement. "This poll suggests that many parents aren't heeding that advice consistently, putting kids at risk for long-lasting health concerns."
Clark said many major health risks for children are closely tied to parenting behaviors. For example, children and teens who don't get enough sleep gain weight, the IQs of U.S. children ages 2-4 who were not spanked were 5 points higher than the IQs of those who were spanked, and excessive TV watching and computer time is linked to obesity.
The survey was conducted by GfK Custom Research last January. It has a margin of error of 2 percentage points to 15 percentage points.