A birthmark is formed on the skin of a baby before birth. Approximately one in ten babies are born with birthmarks or skin lesions of a vascular nature known as ‘naevi’.
Birthmarks generally appear as skin discolorations or may appear as a soft growth of tissue. It may appear at the time a baby is born or soon after birth.
The precise cause of a birthmark is unknown and not understood but is clearly not genetic. On rare occasions birthmarks hereditary in nature arise. These are manifest when children of differing ages from the same mother have identical birthmarks in the same place.
Contrary to popular belief, birthmarks are not caused by deficiencies on the part of the mother either. Furthermore, they are no indication of ill health or cancer. Birthmarks are steeped in folklore and myths; none of which are true.
There are a number of different types of birthmarks such as strawberry marks, Mongolian blue spots, stork bites, port-wine stains and congenital melanocytic nevi. The different types are prevalent according to race and color. For instance, a Mongolian blue is common amongst East Asians, Native Americans and East Africans. Similarly strawberry marks found on 10 percent of Caucasian babies occur on only about 1 percent of Asians and Black newborns.
Birthmarks rarely pose a problem unless they are visible on the face in which case they could be an embarrassment. Over a period of time the birthmark might thicken and become darker but they rarely disappear. If the presence of a birthmark causes social problems, it could be removed by surgical intervention.
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