—Photo by JellyBean Pictures

With Memorial Day behind us, summer is [unofficially] in full swing.  (Woot! Woot!) But before you stock up on sunblock and sand toys, check out these indispensable bits of advice from our talented panel of experts.

Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics finally published its official policy statement on UV Radiation and its effects on kids. “Long overdue, but nonetheless timely,” says pediatric expert JJ Levenstein of MD Moms, who took the time to boil down the AAP’s key findings—in terms we can understand.

The Hazards:
    •    In 1992, the International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that “there is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of solar radiation”, and from every corner of the scientific community additional research has supported the strong causal relationship between sunlight exposure and skin cancer.  
    •    UV Radiation acutely can result in light induced eye inflammation, direct burns to the retina and even increased risk of cataract development.
    •    Artificial tanning devices can produce 10-15 times higher radiation than midday sun.  

Sun-Safety Precautions:
    •    Do not burn
    •    Avoid suntanning & tanning beds
    •    Wear protective clothing and hats: SPF clothing rated 15-24 is good, 25-39 very good, and 40-50 excellent.  Normal clothing will lose its protective ability if wet.
    •    Seek shade, but remember that one can still be burned from reflective rays and filtered sun through cloud cover
    •    Use extra caution near water, snow and sand
    •    Wear sunglasses—preferably ones with broad spectrum UV ray coverage
    •    Proper application and reapplication of sunscreen is more important than using a product with a higher SPF. (For the SPF to be truly achieved, apply at least one ounce (a shot glass full) on the skin, and re-apply frequently . . . certainly after swimming, sweating or drying off with a towel.  
    •    Use sunscreen on infants 6 months of age or younger when adequate clothing and shade are not available.  It is advised that sunscreen be applied only on exposed areas.  Special caution is given as to lack of data about absorption rates in preemies due to their more fragile stratum corneum (outer layers of skin).
    •    Chemical sunscreens (those with active ingredients ending with -one, and -ate, for example) may have potential for more skin irritation. Special mention is made about the theoretical risk that oxybenzone may have estrogen-like activity and is therefore not endorsed.
    •    Inorganic active ingredients like Titanium and Zinc are less irritating and provide both UVA and UVB protection.

Vitamin D:
    •    Recognizing that in the past, the primary route of Vitamin D production in humans required UV exposure, the policy statement urges health care providers to ensure that healthy infants, children and adolescents ingest and/or supplement with adequate amounts of Vitamin D—at least 400 international units per day.

So grab your hat, your shades,  your SPF and your Vitamin D…..and have a safe and healthy summer!

—Get more fun tips from the StrollerTraffic experts in our Summer 2011 Survival Guide.