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J Trop Pediatr. 2013 Oct;59(5):403-6. doi: 10.1093/tropej/fmt042. Epub 2013 Jun 10.

An intervention to discourage Australian mothers from unnecessarily exposing their babies to the sun for therapeutic reasons.

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  • 1Skin Cancer Research Group, Anton Brienl Centre, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville Qld 4811, Australia.


Parents play a key role in children's sun-protective behaviour, with good sun-protective habits established early tending to be sustained. We designed a maternity hospital-based educational intervention to reduce myths that could result in mothers intentionally sunning their babies. Interviews were conducted with two cross-sections of healthy post-partum inpatients in the maternity ward of a large regional public hospital. The first group (n = 106) was recruited before the commencement of educational in-services for maternity nursing staff; the second group (n = 203) was interviewed after the last staff in-service session. More pre-intervention than post-intervention women reported they would expose their baby to sunlight to: treat suspected jaundice (28.8% vs. 13.3%; p < 0.001) or help their baby's skin adapt to sunlight (10.5% vs. 2.5%; p = 0.003). Fewer post-intervention women indicated they would sun themselves to treat breastfeeding-associated sore/cracked nipples (7.6% vs. 2%; p = 0.026). This educational intervention should be used to educate parents, health professionals and students.


infants; nappy rash; neonatal jaundice; perceived therapeutic benefits; post-partum women; sun exposure

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