Policy statement - Ultraviolet radiation: A hazard to children and adolescents

Sophie J. Balk, Helen J. Binns, Heather L. Brumberg, Joel A. Forman, Catherine J. Karr, Jerome A. Paulson, Kevin C. Osterhoudt, James R. Seltzer, Megan T. Sandel, Robert O. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) causes the 3 major forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma; squamous cell carcinoma; and cutaneous malignant melanoma. Public awareness of the risk is not optimal, overall compliance with sun protection is inconsistent, and melanoma rates continue to rise. The risk of skin cancer increases when people overexpose themselves to sun and intentionally expose themselves to artificial sources of UVR. Yet, people continue to sunburn, and teenagers and adults alike remain frequent visitors to tanning parlors. Pediatricians should provide advice about UVR exposure during health-supervision visits and at other relevant times. Advice includes avoiding sunburning, wearing clothing and hats, timing activities (when possible) before or after periods of peak sun exposure, wearing protective sunglasses, and applying and reapplying sunscreen. Advice should be framed in the context of promoting outdoor physical activity. Adolescents should be strongly discouraged from visiting tanning parlors. Sun exposure and vitamin D status are intertwined. Cutaneous vitamin D production requires sunlight exposure, and many factors, such as skin pigmentation, season, and time of day, complicate efficiency of cutaneous vitamin D production that results from sun exposure. Adequate vitamin D is needed for bone health. Accumulating information suggests a beneficial influence of vitamin D on many health conditions. Although vitamin D is available through the diet, supplements, and incidental sun exposure, many children have low vitamin D concentrations. Ensuring vitamin D adequacy while promoting sun-protection strategies will require renewed attention to children's use of dietary and supplemental vitamin D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-597
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Artificial tanning
  • Children
  • Melanoma
  • Prevention
  • Skin cancer
  • Skin cancer prevention
  • Sun
  • Sun protection
  • Sunscreen
  • Tanning
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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