The support for banning teen use of tanning beds continues to mount. A new policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is strongly in favor of legislation that would prevent children from using tanning beds or other artificial tanning devices. This backs the positions of a growing number of advocacy groups including the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Dermatology.
The AAP's policy statement on ultraviolet radiation was published in the March issue of Pediatrics. The group's position on the matter perfectly clear with the assertion, "Pediatricians should support and advocate for legislation to ban access to tanning parlors for children younger than 18 years."
Sunlamps and tanning beds are the main sources of artificial UV exposure. Regarding the dangers of their use, the statement warned that "the intensity of ultraviolet-A radiation produced by large, powerful tanning units may be 10 to 15 times higher than that of the midday sun." However, according to the results of a national survey, up to 35 percent of 17-year-old girls will use a tanning bed.
In addition to the tanning bed recommendations, the AAP advised parents to educate children about UV protection from an early age. The need for early education is especially important among children who are at high risk for developing skin cancer, including those with fair-skin who freckle or sunburn easily, children with a family history of melanoma. In addition, infants less than six months old should be carefully shielded from the sun. Only six sunburns in a lifetime increase the risk for Melanoma by 50 percent. Wearing proper clothing and hats are advised, in addition to applying sunscreen and wearing sunglasses.