Objective: To determine the extent of intentional sun exposure in infancy, and the prevalence of maternal belief that potentially increases the children's harm risk from ultraviolet radiation. The major determinants of mothers' beliefs and behaviors regarding sunning were also assessed.
Methods: Three hundred and ninety six Caucasian women mothering 0-12 month old infants, attending to Sakarya State Hospital Healthy Infant outpatient clinic in November 2003, filled in the questionnaire after giving their informed consent. Each mother was asked 11 structured questions regarding maternal education, beliefs regarding benefits or harms of sun exposure, use of sunlight for therapeutic purposes, use of sun protection, and source of knowledge.
Results: The mean age of the mothers was 27.37 +/- 5.36 years and the children was 5.71 +/- 3.53 months. Two hundred and thirty-five mothers (64.1%) believed that sunlight is harmful, but 296 (79.7%) named one benefit of intentional baby sunning. Sun causes cutaneous diseases was the most frequently (n=83/126) mentioned harm and sun strengthens bones and teeth was the number one (n=250/296) benefit according to the mothers. The leading source of knowledge for the beneficial effects of the sun was health care professionals (physician, midwife, nurse) 45.7% (130/284). There was no significant correlation between mothers' sunning behavior and age, education level, being advised so by a health care professional or believing that the sun was harmful.
Conclusion: As these results display being the leading source of knowledge and initiative of healthy/risky behaviors, primary health care physicians/workers have to be informed regarding the vitamin D supplementation and risks of sun exposure.