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What causes strawberry birthmarks in infants?

On by , Digestive Care Advisor

Strawberry birthmark infant

Strawberry birthmarks are raised, soft red lumps on the skin. They are found on at least one in fifty babies and are the most common benign tumor in infants. Many myths have developed about these birthmarks. For example, if a pregnant woman does not satisfy a sudden wish for strawberries, it's said that the infant might bear a strawberry mark... But even today, the cause of birthmarks is not fully understood.

Photo:
Infantile birthmark

Strawberry birthmarks in infants, also called infantile hemangiomas, is due to an over growth of blood cells during development of the fetus. They are thought to occur as a result of a localized imbalance in factors controlling the development of blood vessels. This profileration of blood cells results in the red color. But are there known factors for the development of strawberry birthmarks in infants?




Infants born with strawberry birthmarks: a genetic cause?

Some birthmarks seem to have a genetic connection as other members of the family may have the same birthmarks. But strawberry birthmarks are not usually hereditary, although 10% of infants have a family history of these vascular birthmarks.

Any correlation between premature infants and birthmarks?

Are premature infants more likely to have strawberries birthmarks than babies born at term? A study by researchers at The Medical College of Wisconsin and Children's Research Institute shows that low birth weight is the most significant factor for the development of infantile hemangiomas.

"This study reaffirms several known risk factors for infantile hemangiomas, specifically female gender, white, non-Hispanic race/ethnicity, and prematurity," says Dr. Drolet who led the study. "The link to low birth weight may explain why physicians believe more infants are developing hemangiomas. Based on low birth weight statistics, we estimate that the incidence of infantile hemangiomas has increased by 40 percent in the last 20 years."


(Study: Increased Rate Of Common Birthmarks Linked To Rise In Number Of Low Birth Weight Infants In US - Science Daily.com)

Are there other possible causes for strawberry birthmarks in infants?

Another study, also published in Pediatric Dermatology Journal, reveals that a disturbance of oxygen depletion was found in placentas of babies who developed infantile hemangioma. The researchers concluded that disturbed placental circulation is a factor underlying the development of hemangiomas in very low weight newborns and indicates that placental examination is essential for clarifying the physiologic changes leading to strawberry birthmarks in babies with normal birth weight.
(Study: Infants With Birthmarks Received Less Oxygen In Womb - Bio-medecine.org)

More research is needed to determine the real cause of strawberry birthmarks. However, it is believed that no known food, medication, or activity during pregnancy can cause a hemangioma. So, parents shouln't feel guilty. It is natural to feel upset or worried, but birthmarks are not linked to anything the mother did during pregnancy.
Also, strawberry birthmarks tend to fade spontaneously. They are neither painful or harmful, although about one in a hundred will require medical treatment. So, it is still recommended to consult a doctor who will also evaluate and possible recommend some x-rays to see the extent of an infant strawberry birthmark.



Useful links on strawberry birthmarks


If you think this article may be useful for others and want to link to it, please use the following format: Beck, Josephine. "What causes strawberry birthmarks in infants?" Optiderma.com. April 25, 2009. http://www.optiderma.com/en/they-talk-about-it/skin-articles/what-causes-strawberry-birthmarks-in-infants.html

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