Anatomy And Physiology

Anatomy Physiology

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Medical experts state that one in ten babies are born with a birthmark. Some are very prominent, some quite small and very hard to detect due to the fact that they are hidden behind hair, on the buttocks or groin and so forth. Many birthmarks diminish with age while some actually stretch across the skin as the person grows. Birthmarks are quite common and have often been linked to superstitions. Why some people have birthmarks and others don’t is due to various factors and these are, genetics and underlying medical problems. Birthmarks can warn doctors of a patient’s potential risk for cancer, glaucoma and so forth.

In Celtic times, birthmarks were seen as warnings. A myriad of people thought that birthmarks were the sign of evil or good fortune, depending on what type of birthmark was present. Back in those days, if a child was born with a birthmark it was thought that the mother had sinned in some manner prior to her pregnancy. Strawberry birthmarks or café-au-late spots were said to be present because the mother ate too many coffee laced foods or red coloured foods. The location of the birthmark was said to be of utmost importance and if a woman had one on her chin, she was supposed to be heading towards great wealth. If a man had a birthmark on the right side of his body it was said that he would experience great fortune and happiness throughout his entire life. But when viewed by a medical professional many birthmarks need to be removed for health reasons.

If a person has a strawberry birthmark around or on the eye, it can diminish the ability to see correctly or blink. Often these birthmarks are linked with glaucoma and need to be removed as soon as possible.Glaucoma is a very common eye condition in which the fluid pressure inside the eyes increases due to slowed fluid drainage from the eye. If this is untreated, it can damage the optic nerve and other parts of the eye. This can lead to blindness. If a person has a congenital pigmented nevi, these birthmarks ( moles ) can signal the fact that you are at high risk of cancer. These need to be checked as soon as possible and don’t fool yourself that children are too young to get these as that is a misconception. While it is common to see little pimples and blotches on the face of newborns, it is also quite common to see babies with birthmarks as well.

These may not be present at birth but sometimes appear shortly after. Some can be quite disfiguring while some are barely noticeable. Seeing a birthmark on your child can be very depressing. Birthmarks vary in many different ways. Some are raised or flat while others have what looks like boarders which range in colour from pink, red, brown, tan to black, pale blue or purple. The most common types of birthmarks are the red, vascular type strawberry ( haemangioma port wine stains ) stork bites and the pigmented birthmarks which appear as moles, Mongolian spots and café-au-late spots.

Vascular ( otherwise known as blood vessel birthmarks ) occur when the blood vessels fail to form correctly. There may be too many blood vessels or they may have be malformed and be a little too broad. The pigmented birthmarks are due to an overgrowth of cells which create the skin’s pigment. Vascular birthmarks are the port wine stains, macular stains and haemangioma types. Macular stains are often called angel kisses, stork bites and salmon patches. These are the more common types of birthmarks. These usually appear on the back of the neck, forehead, nose, upper lip or the side or top of the head. These usually fade by the time a child reaches its second birthday. Yet some do not disappear.

The haemangioma type of birthmark is classed as superficial when it is present on the surface of the skin. When one is found below the skin’s surface it is deemed deep. Sometimes these are raised and bright red in appearance. These can appear bluish at times because the blood vessels are affected in the deeper layers of the skin. These can grow very fast during the first 6 months of a child’s life. But they usually shrink between the ages of five to ten. Unfortunately some leave scars.

Contrary to popular beliefs birthmarks can not be prevented, they are not caused by anything the mother does prior to birth. Birthmarks are simply Mother Nature’s mark. While the cause of birthmarks is relatiely unknown, they can be inherited on the odd occasion and are not related to drugs, trauma, alcoholism or any trauma to the body or the skin during pregnancy. If you have any concerns about birthmarks speak to your doctor.

More about this author: Russell Waldron

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