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Br J Dermatol. 2012 Aug;167 Suppl 2:63-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2012.11088.x.

Getting in early: primary skin cancer prevention at 55 German kindergartens.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology, Skin Cancer Centre Charité, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.



Skin neoplasms are the most frequent types of neoplasms in white populations, and their incidence is increasing. Epidemiological studies have shown that the major environmental aetiological factor for their development is sunlight exposure. Sun protection programmes are urgently needed to raise awareness of the health hazards of ultraviolet radiation. In 2010 the 'SunPass' project was implemented at 55 kindergartens in Germany. This is the first nationwide environmental education programme for sun safety designed to teach children in kindergartens and their caregivers how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun.


An interventional lecture, site inspections and a certification were part of the programme. Effects of these interventions were studied.


The gain in knowledge and changed sun-behavioural attributes were quantified by questionnaires administered before and after the 'SunPass' interventions.


The total number of children was 5424. Sun-protection behaviour after the intervention improved significantly (P < 0·001). Among parents, 22·2% reported one to five sunburns of their child since birth. There was a significant increase in hat use by children in kindergartens (P = 0·029), as well as some significantly improved shade practices. There was a significantly increased demand for protective clothing for children (P < 0·001). The change in sunscreen use in kindergartens was not significant.


Although some aims of the 'SunPass' project were not fulfilled, such as the precise knowledge of skin types and a change of sunscreen use, the study had some positive outcomes in increasing the awareness of skin cancer and its prevention possibilities. The findings of the present study suggest that relatively brief interventions in kindergartens lead to improved sun protection of children. The whole investigation reaching over 5400 children and their parents underlines the importance of learning appropriate sun-protective behaviour in early childhood in order to decrease the risk for skin cancer.

© 2012 The Authors. BJD © 2012 British Association of Dermatologists.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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