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With the winter thaw,  all over the country parents and children of every color and skin tone are beginning to think about Little League.   Its an exciting time.  Bats, balls, mitts, caps, helmets, socks and the team colors are brought out  in preparation, and dreams are built.

Now is the time to make sure your child adds sunscreen and other sun protective methods to the list of mandatory uniform items.  This is important for children of every color or skin tone.

In years past, the baseball cap was the primary form of sun protection used on the field.  We now know that the baseball cap only protects the top of the head, forehead and the top of the nose.  While it continues to be an essential part of the uniform helping to identify players and teams, it should not be considered adequate sun protection.  Baseball caps do not protect the back of the neck, the tops of the ears, the sides of the cheeks, or the chin.  Even baseball caps with extended visors offer little protection to the side of the cheeks and chin, and they provide no protection to the back of the neck and the ears. It is, therefore, vital to use sunscreen on these exposed areas of skin .  Apply it before going to practice or to the game, and keep it in sports bags to reapply as recommended on label.

It is also important to protect the arms of our little league players.  Most uniforms are short sleeved.  It would be best if the uniforms were changed to a minimum of three-quarter length sleeves or to a long sleeve, but if this is not an option, be sure to use sun screen on arms and hands.  Or – use a long sleeved tee-shirt dyed to match the uniform under the jersey.  (This is also helpful in areas where spring weather is still chilly).

Children’s eyes also need sun protection.  While many children wear a black smear or black tape under their eyes to help deflect the sun, this does not provide adequate protection for the eye.  The problems associated with eye exposure to UVR includes cataracts, macular degeneration, and melanoma of the eye – one of the most deadly cancers.  The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health  www.aap.org   recommends that infants and children wear sunglasses that block 99 percent of the full UV spectrum.   Sunglasses for children are easy to find.  Just make sure check that labels state the glasses will block 99.5 percent UVR-both UVA and UVB-and be sure the fit is right.

So there are there are three important additions to any Little League uniform: sunscreen, long sleeves and sunglasses.  Please remember that this is important advice for children of all colors. Skin cancer affects us all.

Be Safe!  Be SunAWARE!

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