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Identifying Baby's Birthmarks

Many new parents find birthmarks on their newborns. Grandma says they’re just “stork bites,” but you’re a bit panicked. Relax. Pediatric internist Dr. Loc Trieu with Medical City Dallas Hospital says nearly all birthmarks are harmless and painless.

Common baby birthmarks include strawberry haemangioma (raised crimson marks that usually appear within a few days or weeks after birth), café au lait spots (smooth, oval marks that are various shades of brown) and Mongolian spots (smooth, blue or blue-gray marks, usually found on the lower part of the body). Port-wine stains, which are caused by the improper growth of blood vessels, can cover a large part of the body or face; these birthmarks may cause a cosmetic concern, but they’re not medically harmful.

“Rarely does a birthmark need to be treated because it causes a medical problem,” Trieu says. “Birthmarks that grow on internal organs need treatment because they can cause problems with sight, breathing, hearing, speech and movement, based on the organ they grow onto.”

Birthmarks on internal organs are very rare, Trieu says, and are detectable from birth by a doctor’s manual external examination of the baby’s internal organs. If certain birthmarks are visible on the baby’s skin, the doctor should pay special attention to the baby’s organs during an examination, according to Trieu.

“When you feel any mass, when you see an extra bulge, you want to do [medical] imaging,” Trieu says.

But, Trieu emphasizes, even though most birthmarks are harmless, parents shouldn’t be afraid to ask their child’s pediatrician if they’re concerned.