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What You Need to Know about Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation
Episode four: Special Care for Children in the Sun

    Written by: LEUNG Wai-hung    September 2009

    Children love playing outdoors and spend more time in the sun than the average adult.  It has been estimated that the majority of a person's lifetime exposure to UV radiation is received before the age of eighteen.  As the risk of adverse health effects from UV radiation exposure is cumulative, overexposure to sunlight during childhood will increase the chance of skin cancer occurring later in life.  In other words, reducing the occurrence of sunburn and repeated UV radiation exposure during the early age can cause skin cancer rates to decline.

    Children themselves are usually not aware of the harmful effects of UV radiation.  Therefore, it is the parents' responsibility to protect their children from UV radiation.  Some common ways to protect children from the sun are given below:

    • When taking children outdoors, protect them from UV radiation by the use of hats, umbrellas, sunglasses and proper clothing.
    • Apply sunscreen lotion to protect those areas of the skin that cannot be adequately covered with clothing.
    • Do not leave children in the sun for extended periods of time, encourage them to play in the shade.
    • Teach children about sun safety measures and the UV index.
    • Whenever possible, schedule outdoor activities to avoid peak UV radiation periods.
    • Never allow children to use sunlamps.

    Children should receive adequate protection from the sun
    (Photos taken by Mr. Chow Chi-kin, Hong Kong Observatory)

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  1. "Safety under the Sun - Protect yourself against UV Radiation" pamphlet published by the Department of Health and the Hong Kong Observatory, 2007.
  2. "Global Solar UV Index: A Practical Guide", World Health Organization, 2002.
  3. "Protecting children from ultraviolet radiation" Fact Sheet No. 261, World Health Organization, 2001.

Last revision date: <21 Dec 2012>