Practical advice for new parents

Baby Birthmarks

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Birthmarks are discolored areas of the skin that are present on a baby's skin at birth or appear within the first few weeks following birth. Approximately four out of every five babies born will have at least one type of birthmark. In most cases birthmarks do fade over time but some will remain visible for life.

There are two main types of birthmarks - pigmented and vascular. Pigmented birthmarks are caused by an abnormal growth of pigmented cells and are black, brown, grey, or bluish in color. Vascular birthmarks are usually pink or red and caused by an over-development of lymph or blood vessels below the skin. The vast majority of all birthmarks are harmless and will go away without any medical intervention. However, it is important to have all birthmarks evaluated by your child's doctor.

Birthmarks come in an array of shades, shapes, and sizes and can appear anywhere on the body. The most common types of birthmarks are:

Macular Stains

(also called stork bites, angel kisses, and salmon patches)
This is the most common of birthmarks can be found on about 7 out of 10 newborn babies. Macular stains are caused by dilated capillary veins near the skin’s surface, and they appear as pink or red blotchy marks. They are frequently found on the eyelids and forehead and usually fade by age two.

Mongolian Spots

Mongolian spots are most commonly found on babies with darker pigmented skin. These birthmarks are large, flat patches of bluish or grey skin and normally appear on the buttocks and back. Mongolian spots will normally fade by age five to ten.

Café Au Lait Spots

About twenty to fifty percent of all babies are born with these light brown spots that can darken with sun exposure. As a child grows, the spots will appear smaller, but generally, they do not completely disappear.

Hemangiomas

It is estimated that ten percent of babies are born with at least one of these raised, rough-edged marks. They frequently appear on the neck and face and can grow up to two or three inches in width during the first year. Usually, they will eventually stop growing, turn whitish in color, and diminish in size. The complete reversal of a hemangioma can take up to ten years. These birthmarks are more common in females, premature infants, and multiples.

Moles

Only about one percent of babies are born with birthmark moles. These clusters of pigmented skin cells can be black or brown and often start off flat and then become raised. Additional moles can develop as a child grows.

Port Wine Stains

Less than one percent of babies are born with port wine stains. These pink or red colored marks are vascular (contain blood vessels) and can show up anywhere on the body. Most port wine stains do not fade over time and can frequently become bigger, darker, and even lumpy over time.

While many birthmarks will eventually fade and disappear over time on their own accord, treatment can also be an option for more persistent birthmarks. Treatment options include the use of lasers and steroids. However, because most birthmarks fade by the time a child starts school, most doctors take a wait and see approach before recommending any treatment. If you are at all concerned about the presence of birthmarks on your baby then consult with doctor.

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