New report presents first data on sunbed use in children under 18 years of age 2 years ago

New report presents first data on sunbed use in children under 18 years of age

It's the first report of it's kind.

The Institute of Public Health and NUI Galway’s Health Promotion Research Centre presented data this month on sunburn, sun smart behaviours and sunbed use by children for the first time.

The report aims to highlight the risk factors that could lead to children developing skin cancer later in life.

Data presented is principally from the 2018 Health Behaviours in School-Aged Children (HBSC) Survey, which reports health behaviours for those aged 10 to 17-years-old. The total sample size was 10,271.

According to the report childhood sunburn, unprotected sun exposure and use of sunbeds increase the risk of developing skin cancers later in life.

Repeated episodes of severe sunburn during childhood doubles the risk of developing melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, in later life.

Given how pale or fair skinned most Irish people are, information like this is particularly important for parents to hear. That being said even if you do have a darker complexion and don't burn your skin may still be receiving damage which is why it's important for everyone to stay sun safe.


The report also found that a significant number of children under the age of 18 regularly use sunbeds.

During the study three per cent of children said they used a sunbed in the last 12 months. The provision of sunbed services to children aged under 18 is contrary to Irish law as outlined in the Public Health (Sunbeds) Act 2014.

Prof Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, from NUI Galway’s Health Promotion Research Centre, said the findings provide a vital insight into children’s sun behaviours in Ireland.

"This is the first time that children’s behaviours have been comprehensively recorded in Ireland, and it’s clear that this area requires focused development to protect children. This survey data will be important for planning future awareness and behaviour programmes, and targeting resources to those children and families who most need it."

There are five ways to help your child stay sun smart and they are;

1)Slip on clothing that covers your skin such as long sleeves, collared t-shirts;

2)Slop on sunscreen on exposed areas, using factor 50+ for children;

3)Slap on a wide-brimmed hat;

4)Seek shade – especially if outdoors between 11am and 3pm – and always use a sunshade on a child’s buggy;

5)Slide on sunglasses to protect your eyes.