Open Access Research article

Parents' knowledge and behaviour concerning sunning their babies; a cross-sectional, descriptive study

Nihal Aladag, Tuncay M Filiz, Pinar Topsever* and Suleyman Gorpelioglu

Author Affiliations

Department of Family Medicine, Kocaeli University Faculty of Medicine, Kocaeli, 41000 Turkey

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BMC Pediatrics 2006, 6:27  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-6-27

Published: 31 October 2006

Abstract

Background

For centuries, sunlight has been used for therapeutic purposes. Parents still sun their infants to treat neonatal jaundice, nappy rash or mostly to supply vitamin D for bone development as a consequence of health beliefs. In this study we aimed to assess knowledge and behaviour of parents about benefits of sunlight and sun protection.

Methods

In this study, parents attending to governmental primary healthcare units for their children's routine vaccinations, upon their informed consent, were consecutively enrolled during one month. Data were collected by a semi-structured questionnaire.

Results

The mean age of 118 enrolled parents and their babies were 27.9 ± 6.5 years and 8.3 ± 5.8 months, respectively. Most of the participants were mothers (93.2%), housewives (81.4%) with an educational level of ≥6 years (71.2%). Sunlight was considered beneficial for bone development (86.4%), diaper rash (5.9%) and neonatal jaundice (12.7%). In case of neonatal jaundice 72.0% of the participants reported that they would consult a physician. Most of the participants (82.2%) were sunning their babies outdoors. Nearly half (49.7%) of them got this information from medical staff. Fifty two percent of the parents were sunning their babies before 10–11 a.m. and/or after 3 p.m. Only 13.6% of parents reported using sunscreen for their babies, and the majority of them were using sun protecting factor ≥ 15. One forth of the sunscreen users was using sunscreen according to their physicians' advice.

Conclusion

Most of the participants were aware of the benefits of sunlight; especially for bone development. However they were displaying inappropriate behaviour while sunning their babies for health reasons. More education should be given to parents about the danger of sunlight at primary health care units while advising to sun their babies, if any.