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Child Advocates Urge Parents to Protect Children from the Sun

July 17, 2001

Seattle, WA - Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Washington Chapter (AAP) issued strong warnings to parents and caretakers to reduce children’s exposure to sun.

Seattle, WA - Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Washington Chapter (AAP) issued strong warnings to parents and caretakers to reduce children’s exposure to sun. “Sunscreens to prevent sunburn are not enough. Staying out of the midday sun and wearing protective clothing are key,” says Robin Hornung, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Dermatology at Children’s.

According to experts, skin cancer has reached epidemic levels. Too much sun exposure is linked with the later development of skin cancer and most exposure takes place before the age of 18. Yet the fear of cancer from the sun has somehow escaped the concerns of parents. “Sun protection in children is too often ignored. Victims of skin cancer have not focused on prevention and we find it difficult to accept that our beloved sun in the sky can be so dangerous,” said Abraham Bergman, M.D. Chief of Pediatrics at Harborview Medical Center.

The AAP recommends that babies under the age of 6 months of age should be kept out of the direct sunlight in the shade or under a tree or stroller canopy. Dress babies and young children in lightweight clothing that also covers the arms and legs. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin at least 30 minutes before going outside, even on cloudy days. Make sure that the sun protection factor (SPF) is at least 15. Try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. as this is when the sun’s rays are the strongest.

Along with sunburn, infants and children may be at increased risk for eye injury from the sun. Therefore infants and children should wear hats with a wide brims and sunglasses designed to block at least 99 percent of the sun’s rays. “Skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer because we know its main cause is ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Educating parents about comprehensive skin protection will go a long way towards promoting long term healthful habits and ultimately reduce the ever growing rate of skin cancer,” says Hornung.

About Seattle Children’s

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Seattle Children’s has been delivering superior patient care while advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit www.seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

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