My baby was born with hair all over his body

Dear Doctor: Every woman would want to have a cute baby. But I am ashamed of mine who was born with hair all over the body. A friend sarcastically said my baby reminds her of how humans are said to have descended from apes. Should I shave off the hair?

Salma

Dear Salma: Babies are usually born with hair on the head, eyebrows, eyelashes and other parts of the body, except the palms and soles of feet, in what is known as lanugo.

Lanugo is a fine, soft and usually unpigmented hair on the body of a foetus or newborn baby. It is the first hair to be produced by the foetal hair follicles and often appears at about five months of pregnancy.

It is usually shed off before birth, when the baby is between seven and eight months. This hair is present at birth and disappears on its own within a few days or weeks. The presence of lanugo in newborns is a sign of premature birth.

When this hair is shed, it is replaced by hair covering the same surfaces called vellus, which is finer and more difficult to see. The more visible hair that continues into adulthood (such as the one on the head) is called terminal hair. This forms in specific areas and is hormone-dependent.

As the lanugo is shed off from the skin, it is normal for the developing foetus to consume the hair with the amniotic fluid (the one in the pregnancy bag). Subsequently this contributes to the newborn baby’s first green stool called meconium.

Lanugo helps anchor into position a white covering on the skin of the foetus called vernix caseosa. This combination with vernix caseosa protects the delicate foetal skin from damage from the amniotic fluid and helps the baby glide easily through the birth canal when it is being born.

Apart from lubrication, the combination helps to regulate foetal body temperature, water loss and protection against germs (immunity).

Lanugo can also be observed in malnourished adults, including those with an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa.

You do not have to shave off the hair because it will soon disappear. But in case it does not, please contact your doctor who will aise on what to do.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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