Changes in the pattern of sun-exposure and sun-protection in young children from tropical Australia

Smith, A., Harrison, S., Nowak, M., Buttner, P., and Maclennan, R. (2012) Changes in the pattern of sun-exposure and sun-protection in young children from tropical Australia. In: 21st Congress of the EADV Book of Conference Abstracts. pp. 1-6. From: 21st Congress of the European Acacdemy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV ): Skin is Vital, 27-30 September 2012, Prague, Czech Republic. (Unpublished)

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Introduction & Objectives: To investigate whether Australian skin cancer prevention programs have led to improvements in sun-exposure and sun-protective behaviour among young children in tropical Australia. Materials & Methods: Two cohorts of 12-35 month-old children from tropical Australia were compared; the first cohort (n=201) was recruited in 1991 from hospital birth records, the second (n=463) was recruited via local childcare centres in 1999-2002. Children’s phenotypic characteristics were assessed and parents completed questionnaires detailing children’s demographic characteristics, sun-exposure and sun-protective practices. Results: Although a higher proportion of children in cohort 2 regularly went to the beach (p<0.001) and swam in outdoor pools (p≤0.03), “Playing in water with the back exposed during the warmer half of the year” was more frequent among children in cohort 1 (p<0.001). This coincides with an increase in the proportion of children wearing a protective swim-shirt. By age 2 years more than half the children had been sunburnt (52.4% in 1991; 55.9% in 1999) yet a lower proportion of children in cohort 2 had experienced a sunburn on the back or shoulders (p<0.001). Likewise, children in cohort 2 had significantly fewer melanocytic naevi on their posterior trunk than children in the first cohort (p<0.001). They were also less likely to have acquired naevi anywhere else on their body (p<0.01). Multivariate analysis confirmed that children from cohort 2 had spent a higher average number of hours outside in the sun on a typical day in the previous year than children from cohort 1 (p=0.014). Although fewer than half the children almost always used sunscreen when outdoors during summer, the usage was higher among cohort 2 (I yr olds, 23.4% vs 48.1%; p<0.001: 2 yr olds, 20.0% vs 43.3%; p=0.001). Multivariate analysis confirmed cohort 2 children had, on average, acquired fewer melanocytic naevi on the posterior trunk than cohort 1 children (p<0.001). Conclusions: In this study, the duration of time spent in the sun in early childhood did not change significantly over an 8-year period, but there was a significant improvement in sun-protective practices in this region with a substantial skin cancer burden. The observed increase in the popularity of swim-shirts and sunscreen use between cohorts coincides with the development of significantly fewer melanocytic naevi during early childhood; the number of melanocytic naevi is a key phenotypic risk marker for melanoma development. Skin cancer primary prevention campaigns are having an effect, however, more work is required particularly to reduce sun-exposure. This study has identified the importance of maintaining the focus of such programs on prevention in childhood.

Item ID: 26660
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Keywords: sun exposure; melanocytic nevi; child; infant
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Funders: Queensland Health
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2013 00:29
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111706 Epidemiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920117 Skin and Related Disorders @ 20%
92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920102 Cancer and Related Disorders @ 20%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920401 Behaviour and Health @ 60%
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