Start sun exposure advice early

March 1, 2011

Pediatricians should be offering advice about ultraviolet radiation exposure at 1 or more health-maintenance visits a year beginning in infancy.

Pediatricians should be offering advice about ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure at 1 or more health-maintenance visits a year beginning in infancy, according to a new policy statement on UVR recently issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The guidelines also strongly advocate against adolescents visiting tanning salons.

Exposure to UVR causes basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and cutaneous malignant melanoma, the 3 major forms of skin cancer. Awareness of UVR risk is not what it should be, compliance with sun protection lacks consistency, and the incidence of melanoma has continued to climb, says the AAP. In addition, teens and adults continue to visit tanning parlors.

The AAP also suggests that pediatricians support and advocate for legislation to ban access to tanning salons for children younger than 18 years. The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Dermatology already support legislation to ban the use of artificial tanning devices by adolescents.

Council on Environmental Health and Section on Dermatology. Policy statement-ultraviolet radiation: a hazard to children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2011. Epub ahead of print.