Sun Protection for Infants

Sun protection is especially important for young infants. An infant’s skin is 20% thinner than the adult skin which predisposes it to water loss and sensitivity from environmental elements. Furthermore, infants under 6 months of age do not yet have the protection of melanin in their skin. Experts agree that sunburns in the early part of life are a leading risk factor for skin cancer. Early, consistent sun protection is the best protection against skin cancer, which is 5X more prevalent than breast or prostate cancer. In fact, intermittent, severe sunburns in childhood have been considered to pose the greatest risk, although sunburn throughout life likely contributes to melanoma development (Autier 1998, Dennis 2008). Promoting consistent, healthy sun protection behavior is one of the most important messages that parents can teach their children.


The American Academy of Pediatrics states that it is best for infants under six months of age to avoid periods of direct sunlight.  (http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/pages/Sun-Safety.aspx). However, the AAP has recently softened their previous messaging advocating against sunscreen use for young infants. In cases whereby direct periods of sunlight cannot be avoided, the AAP states that small amounts of sunscreen are preferred to no sunscreen use at all. Parents should apply sunscreen on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands. Use a product with safe ingredients and avoid applying to the inside of the hands and be careful around the eyes. What are key steps parents can take to protect infants and young children from the sun? Click here for a one-page handout to share with your patients:

 

 

New Sunscreen ratings – what do they mean?


New FDA labeling guidelines for sunscreen go into effect this summer. http://www.fda.gov/
Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines/ucm258468.htm#Q3_What_does_the_SPF
. What does this mean for parents who are shopping for sunscreen for their infants and young children? Both UVB and UVA radiation is emitted by the sun. Traditional SPF ratings on sunscreen products only address UVB protection, which causes sunburn. However, UVA radiation is also dangerous because it contributes to premature aging and the most dangerous forms of skin cancer. One aspect of the new FDA labeling regulations will offer a ‘broad spectrum’ test rating on products. Sunscreen products allowed to be labeled as "Broad Spectrum” will protect against both UVA and UVB rays. It is important for parents for look for the new UVA “star” rating system on the label. The more stars, the better:

 

  • 1 star is low UVA protection
  • 2 stars is medium protection
  • 3 stars is high protection
  • 4 stars in the highest protection available in an over the counter product

 

 

What else do parents need to be aware of when shopping for sunscreen products?

 

  1. Avoid sprays and powders (Sprays and powders cloud the air with tiny particles of sunscreen that may not be safe to breathe)
  2.  

  3. Use a minimal SPF of 15; but not higher than 50 (there is no scientific that SPFs above 50 offer added protection). A higher SPF of 30+will be needed for beach play, swimming, and outdoor sports.
  4.  

  5. Look for Broad Spectrum protection – protection from both UVB and UVA rays. The more stars the better.
  6.  

  7. Check the level of water resistance. No product is really waterproof – they all wash off after a while. The new FDA labeling requires clarity in the level of water resistance, at 40 vs. 80 minutes.
  8.  

  9. Consider a ‘mineral-based’ sunscreen product. After reviewing the evidence, the Environmental Working Group has determined that mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile of today’s US choices. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. They offer UVA protection, which is sorely lacking in most of today’s sunscreen products”. (http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2011sunscreen/
    sunscreens-exposed/sunscreens-exposed-9-surprising-truths/
    )
  10.  

  11. Check the Safe Cosmetics Database for the safest sunscreen products – a rating of 0-2 is considered the most favorable. Only one in five sunscreens earns high marks for safety and efficacy. Referencing this database will help parents locate a mineral based sunblock, as well as alerting them to dangerous chemicals to avoid, such as vitamin A & oxybenzone. Vitamin A has been shown to increase the most dangerous types of skin cancer. http://www.ewgorg/report/what-scientists-sayabout-vitamin-sunscreen) Oxybenzone penetrates the skin, can trigger allergic reactions, & is a potential hormone disruptor. Experts caution against the use of oxybenzone, especially for children.

 

 

Need more tools to help you navigate the maze of sunblock products?

 

 

Written by Kim Wilschek, RN, CCE
Owner of Chicago Pregnancy & Chicago CPR

Childbirth educator at Edward Hospital and Swedish Covenant Hospital, in Illinois

Five Strategies for Healthy Postpartum Weight Loss

Spring 2012

In This Issue:
 
     Article:
     Sun Protection for Infants
 
     Five Strategies for Healthy
     Postpartum Weight Loss
 
     Handout:
     Suncare Tips for Infant
     and Young Children

 

 

It is natural to want to be back to a pre-pregnancy size after childbirth. Remember to give yourself some credit for growing a human being. Be patient with yourself in shedding your baby weight. Here are some tips that will help you get back into your pre-pregnancy clothes in no time!

 

  1. Space your meals and snacks, not diet. Going on a diet is not advised after you have a baby. In order to give yourself enough energy all day long, it is important to keep blood sugar levels stable to prevent hunger and overeating. Skipping meals and snacks can wreck havoc on your blood sugars and metabolism. In fact, blood sugars will often predict our eating patterns. When we are low in blood sugars we tend to grab foods that are not healthy for us because our bodies are craving something sweet or high in carbs to help get that rise needed for the body to function. If you are breastfeeding, you need to consume 1800-2000 calories per day. Make sure to include a fiber rich carbohydrate and a protein at each meal and snack. It also helps to plan your meals and snacks.

  2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you are breastfeeding, you will need at least 12 8oz glasses of water to produce enough breastmilk and keep your body hydrating. Producing milk is internal exercise for the body since it burns up to 500 calories per day. Keep a glass of water by your night stand, and pack a water bottle with you everywhere you go. Findings in 2008 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that older adults who drank two cups of water half an hour before breakfast ate about 75 fewer calories -- or 13 percent less -- than a comparable group who hadn't drunk water before the meal. Another study found that drinking 2 cups before each meal, participants lost an average of 5lbs more over 12-weeks. The take home point is Americans consume too many sugary beverages and what we really need is to just drink more water.

  3. Say no to TV and yes to walking. A study from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that postpartum moms that limited their TV to less than 2 hours per day, walked 30-minutes 3-5 days per week and did not eat trans fats were  at a 77 percent reduced risk for retaining the baby weight. Too cold to get out for a walk? There are exercise programs available for new mothers that can be done in the privacy of your home and some exercises include your baby.

  4. Sleep like your baby. While we may not be sleeping solid through the night, it is important to sleep when your baby sleeps. “Mothers who reported sleeping five hours or less per day when their babies were six months old had a threefold higher risk for substantial weight retention (11 pounds or more) at their baby's first birthday than moms who slept seven hours per day”, according to a 2007 study by Kaiser Permanente and Harvard Medical School / Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

  5. Join a New Mom’s Group. Being a part of a community of new moms that are going through the same life experiences as you at the present moment can help get you through rough moments, even if you are not feeling so desirable. It will help reinforce that you are not walking alone in this new role called motherhood.

 

 

– Kim Wilschek, RN, CCE

Owner, Chicago Pregnancy

Chief learning officer, Safety Squad