Anatomy Physiology

Causes of birthmarks…

*Don’t believe old wives tales:

Many old wives tales use to make a woman feel she did something she shouldn’t have done if her newborn was born with a birthmark. Women don’t believe anyone’s tales about birthmarks because birthmarks cannot be prevented and they are not caused by something you did or didn’t do during your pregnancy. The actual cause of most birthmarks is unknown. It is known though that they can be inherited, but in most cases are not, and they are not related to trauma to the baby’s skin during childbirth.

*Birthmarks can be only temporary blotches or pimples:

Most all newborns have some sort of temporary pimples or blotches when they’re first born but they will normally disappear as they get adapted to the outside of a mother’s womb. A birthmark ranges from those that are barely noticeable to those that are noticeable and disfiguring. This can be upsetting to a mother but do not fret yourself because most of them are harmless and will go away on their own or will shrink in given time. There are birthmarks though that can be associated with health issues and you should ask your doctor if your newborn has a birthmark if it is related to any health issue the baby may have.

*Birthmarks differ in color and shapes:

Birthmarks can be of different shades of coloring from pale blue to pink, purple, red. They are normally raised or flat with regular or irregular borders with varying colors as mentioned. There are two main types of birthmarks:

(1)  Birthmarks which are vascular (blood vessel related), red birthmarks (i.e., hemangiomas ‘strawberry’, stork bites, port-wine stains). These birthmarks are caused when the blood vessels do not form correctly – there can be too many of them or because they are wider than they should be.

(a)  These type birthmarks are usually birthmarks of macular stains (salmon patches, stork bites, red marks, angel kisses).

(b)  A port-wine stain birthmark is a discoloration looking like wine spills on a particular part of the newborn’s body and as the baby grows, they grow, and thicken these can be treated. 

(c)  Hemangiomas which are also slightly raised with a bright red appearance or deep bluish hemanglomas, these type of birthmarks will grow a lot in the first 6 months of the newborn;s life but will disappear by the time the child is 5 to 9 years old.

(2)  Any pigmented birthmarks, i.e., cafe`-au-lait spots, moles, or Mongolian spots.

(a)  Cafe`-au-lait birthmarks are caused by overgrowth of the cells and this creates pigment in the skin. The cafe`-au-lait spots are the color of coffee with milk. The number of spots may increase as the child gets older. It’s wise to have your doctor evaluate the spots if they are any spots larger than the size of a quarter, this could be a sign of neurofibromatosis which is a genetic disorder caused by abnormal cell growth of the nerve tissue. 

(b)  Mongolian spots which are the bluish-gray flat patches are usually found on the buttocks or the lower part of the back. They are more prevalent of children of darker skin, i.e., American Indian, Hispanic, Southern European descent, Asian, African nationalities. These spots will normally fade by school age of the child.

(c)  Moles (congenital nevi, hairy nevus) a general term for brown nevi (one is called a “nevus”). Most everyone get moles in their lives. If one is present at birth, it is called a congenital nevus and will last for life and a large or giant congenital nevi is more likely to turn into skin cancer (melanoma) at a later stage in life. The smaller moles will have a less increase in the risk of cancer. They are varied in color, size, etc., some are tan, others brown, some are black; you’ll have ones that are flat or ones that are raised; and some may even have hair that grows out of them.

Any mother should always consult their physican if she is concerned about any birthmark and she should get all of the information pertaining to the removal of any birthmark that can be removed.