Uter W. Brit J Derm. 2012;doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2012.10805.x.
Parents with high levels of knowledge about sun exposure risks were more likely than parents with low levels of knowledge to protect their children adequately, but only on the beach, according to recent survey results.
Educational campaigns targeted at reducing children’s exposure to UV radiation have traditionally focused on altering behaviors in one of two settings: on the beach during summer vacation or during everyday outdoor activities. The researchers aimed to determine whether parents apply similar protective measures to reduce their children’s UV exposure in these two environments.
There were 2,619 families with children aged 3 to 6 years enrolled in a population-based survey. Participants lived in and around Erlangen, Germany.
Parents completed a questionnaire containing inquiries about four key sun protection measures taken, including clothes, shade, sun hat and sunscreen. Parents also addressed issues concerning instructions given for sun protection in different outdoor environments, and they provided demographic and photosensitivity information about their children.
Results indicated significant discrepancies regarding the four protective measures for children between an everyday outdoor setting and a holiday setting at the beach.
Parents with high levels of knowledge about potential risk factors were significantly more likely to provide better protection for children in all four measures, but only in the beach environment.
Photosensitivity and demographic characteristics also influenced protective behaviors of the children. As children became older, measures of sun protection decreased.
“Skin cancer prevention campaigns should target the encouragement of sun protection for children also in outdoor activities of daily living, not only during a summer holiday on the beach,” researchers concluded.