Moving from one air-condition environment to another, disappearance of playgrounds and addictive gadgets are reasons for children's aversion to play in sunlight, says a survey done by the Early Childhood Association (ECA) and Podar Institute of Education (PIE). The over-protectiveness of parents has also resulted in many children suffering from skin problems, breathing problems, hair fall and weak bones due to lack of vitamin D, finds the survey.
The ECA and PIE's interaction with parents on their children's outdoor playing habits threw up shocking facts. Around 700 parents from five different cities – Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, Chennai and Bangalore – were interviewed during the course of the survey. It was observed that many parents made incorrect choices for their kids by stopping them from playing in sunlight. Many were unaware of the benefits of sunlight and many did not know what time was suitable for their kids to play out in the sun.
Swati Popat, director of PIE and president of ECA, said: "The survey was done to create awareness among parents about the need to gift nature therapy to kids to keep them healthy. Doctors and schools should educate parents about the importance of vitamins D and B12 which are directly linked to sunlight."
Asked how many hours a day do their children play in the sun, 43% of parents surveyed said 30mins, 20% said one hour, 12% said one-and-half hours, 2% said two hours, another 2% said three hours and a whopping 21% said they don't send their wards out to play at all.
When asked what time of the day do they send their children to play outdoors, 20% said 8am-12 noon, 30% said 12 noon-4pm and 35% said 4pm-9pm.
Dr Mona Gajre of Lokmanya Tilak Municipal hospital said, "A woman who lacked vitamin D can pass on the deficiency to her child. Mostly, women who constantly cover their heads have vitamin D deficiency. I have seen many infants from lower strata getting fractured bones due to massage. A lot of kids from middle and upper strata also have vitamin D deficiency because of constantly living in air-conditioned environment... ."
Dr Mamta Manglani of Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College and Hospital, Sion, said: "We usually get kids from lower strata in our hospital. Because they live in crowded houses, there is less exposure to sun. Children often come with bone problem or respiratory problem due to lack of vitamin D."
Lack of sunlight causes deficiency of vitamin D which, in turn, leads to calcium deficiency as the processing of calcium requires this vitamin. You can give children calcium supplements and milk but the natural vitamin D that kids receive from sunlight cannot be replaced with anything else. Lack of exposure to sun also causes vitamin B12 deficiency. Therefore, it's time to let children play in the sun. Sunlight, fresh air and 'sweat' give your children healthy bodies and minds.