New Guidelines on Reducing Risk of Skin Cancer in Children

cute-babyToday the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new statement and policy urging parents to limit their children’s sun exposure.  The AAP’s statement, including a report titled “Ultraviolet Radiation: a Hazard to Children and Adolescents,” offers guidelines on how to reduce the risk of skin cancer in children.

Skin cancer, including the most serious condition known as melanoma, continues to increase in children and in female teens who visit tanning salons and are constantly exposed to ultraviolet radiation. 

Along with wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, and appropriate clothing and hats, the new policy suggests children should limit and minimize outdoor activities during peak midday sun hours (10 am – 4 pm).  Children 6 months and younger should be covered at all times and kept out of direct sunlight.  The policy also urges support of a new legislation that will prohibit children under 18 from using tanning devices or going to tanning salons.

According to Thomas Rohrer, M.D., Secretary of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, “melanoma is the most common skin cancer in children. In addition, only six severe sunburns in a lifetime increase risk of melanoma by 50 percent. It is important that parents, teachers and physicians encourage sun avoidance and protection by monitoring their children’s moles and freckles for the ABCDEs—asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation, diameter, and evolving; encourage children to wear at least 30 SPF sunscreen and reapply it every two to three hours spent outdoors…One study estimated a 78% drop in skin cancer risk if parents protect their children from significant sun exposure in the first 18 years of life.”

Children who freckle and burn easily because of fair skin and light eyes should be extra careful, as well as children with a family history of melanoma.  Protecting your children from an early age will go a long way in preventing signs of skin cancer.

Read skin cancer prevention tips on

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  1. by jk

    On March 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Did the AAP forget that babies, kids and ALL human beings need some sun exposure everyday to get enough vitamin d?

  2. by SMC

    On March 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I think that limiting my children’s outdoor activities between 10AM and 4 PM is next to impossible. I understand the need to keep kids from getting skin cancer, but what about the benefits of outdoor play, sports, etc.? Children need to be outdoors, not inside in frotn of the tv and computer.

  3. by EL

    On March 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I agree with both of the above statements. I’ve read the same advice a million times. So basically I can let my kids outside between 8 and 10 am and then in the evening after dinner? Also, my two oldest are 8 and 10 and are out running around all day playing with their friends, am I supposed to tell them they have to stay in the house instead? The 2 1/2 yr old begs to go out all winter so when it is finally nice out, I’m supposed to tell him no? This is ridiculous advice.

  4. by Sulamita

    On March 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    I agree this is unrealistic advice and to a point contradictory of other advice that encourages an active lifestyle.

  5. by Jennifer

    On March 5, 2011 at 12:39 am

    I limit the time that my daughter is outside, meaning that we only spend a couple of hours out and then take a break. While we are out I apply sunscreen at least every two hours (although I usually try for every hour). My mom died from melanoma at the age of 50. We aren’t positive, but since she never went to a tanning bed and did not spend a lot of time in the sun as an adult, there is a chance that she did the damage at a oyung age when she used to spend summers on the beach with her family.

  6. by Penelope

    On March 7, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I think this is great advice. I agree with Jennifer and what she said about spending a couple hours outside and then taking a break and being on top of applying sunscreen hourly. Wearing hats and being covered along with sunscreen is very important. I didn’t burn as a kid, rarely but even tanning is a huge sign of skin damage and can cause cancer. To the others, You can simply tell your kids no T.V. or video games, better yet…get rid of the T.V. and gaming consoles all together and make them read books, play games together or with you, have individual indoor play time and do puzzles or build things with erector sets or blocks or do some kind of art project…painting, clay modeling, helping you bake something or make lunch or prep for dinner…there are plenty of things to do inside that can help your kids learn about life and have fun while doing it. Plus, if it keeps them out of the sun when they are over exposed to too much sun and the dangerous UVA/UVB rays, then its a win in my book. We don’t let our son watch T.V. and he’s never played a video game and no complaints there. Sure we all need some Vitamin D but the darker a person’s skin is the longer they’d need to be outside to get the amount of Vitamin D that they need and thus, this puts them at an ever higher risk of skin cancer. So if you are white, you really don’t need to be out more than 15-40 minutes max to get the amount of Vit. D that you need.

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