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Ann Clin Res. 1988;20(4):283-6.

The sauna and children.

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Department of Paediatrics, University of Turku, Finland.


In Finland sauna bathing by infants and children is guided by an empirically acquired parental understanding of the limits of safe heat "exposure". Finnish children are rarely allowed into a sauna alone before they are 7 years old. Finnish parents observe the post sauna bathing behaviour of their children, and this helps them to establish safe limits of exposure and avoid any adaptation problems. The after effects of sauna bathing of children reported in this study are substantial enough to warrant clinical paediatric involvement in unravelling the relation between the psychosomatic symptoms reported by children and their exposure to the raised temperature. There is also the need, even in Finland, of investigating the sauna bathing of children to establish objective criteria for promoting safe sauna bathing habits. Sauna bathing is a centuries old family tradition in Finland. There are 1.4 million saunas in a country with population of some 4.8 million people. Most families either have their own sauna or one close to where they live. In addition, Finnish children have access to sauna facilities at local sporting, recreation and swimming centres. Sauna bathing often takes place in connection with physical education (PE) lessons or sporting club activities for those over the age of 7 years. The average Finnish family takes a sauna bath once a week, and Finnish children are introduced to sauna bathing in early infancy. Although exposure to the raised temperatures normally encountered in a sauna can cause thermoregulatory imbalances in children there are no established guidelines for the safe use of saunas by infants and children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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