Maternal beliefs about the reputed therapeutic uses of sun exposure in infancy and the postpartum period
Harrison, Simone, Buttner, Petra, and Nowak, Madeleine (2005) Maternal beliefs about the reputed therapeutic uses of sun exposure in infancy and the postpartum period. Australian Midwifery Journal, 18 (2). pp. 22-28.
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Objective: To determine the beliefs of women living in sub-tropical and temperate Australia about the reputed therapeutic uses of sunlight in infancy and the postpartum period.
Methods: One hundred and sixty-seven Caucasian postpartum women were recruited from three maternity hospitals in Canberra (August 1998) and one in Brisbane (August 1999), and participated in structured interviews during a sevenday sampling period at each hospital.
Results: The prevalence of inappropriate maternal beliefs about therapeutic sun exposure in infancy and the postpartum period was similar in Brisbane and Canberra. Overall, 62% of women had at least one inappropriate belief about the perceived benefits of intentionally sunning their baby. Forty-two percent of women were in favour of using sunlight to treat neonatal jaundice; 31.1% believed sunlight was a good remedy for cracked nipples; 22.2% believed they should intentionally expose their baby to sunlight to prevent vitamin-D deficiency and 16.2% reported they would use sunlight to treat nappy rash. Older maternal age and previously sunning a child to treat jaundice were common predictors of a number of these beliefs.
Conclusions and Implications: These women reported a high prevalence of beliefs that may result in their infant being intentionally exposed to sunlight, and which could increase their child’s future risk of skin cancer.
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