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We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions in these pages. If you have further questions or concerns, talking to your child’s doctor is a good place to start.
Is my child’s birthmark medically serious?
Most birthmarks are harmless, but there are a few that can require treatment based on where they're located and whether they’re growing. It’s a good idea to have your pediatrician check out your baby’s birthmark just in case.
How common are birthmarks?
They’re pretty common—approximately one in three babies has a birthmark.
What causes birthmarks?
The cause of most birthmarks is still unknown. Doctors agree that no known food, medication or activity during pregnancy can cause a birthmark.
Is my child’s birthmark painful?
In most cases, no. There are certain situations where a birthmark can cause your child some pain; for more information about a particular birthmark, talk to your pediatrician.
Types of birthmarks
There are two main types of birthmarks:
Vascular birthmarks are caused by incorrectly formed blood vessels in your child’s skin. Examples include:
Pigmented birthmarks are caused by an overproduction of pigmentation. Examples include:
café au lait spot: flat, tan spots that can appear anywhere on your child’s body. They’re completely harmless, but if your baby has more than five of them, you should have her screened for neurofibromatosis or other genetic conditions.
slate gray nevus (“Mongolian blue spot”): large, blue-gray birthmarks that resemble bruises and commonly appear on the lower back. They’re completely harmless and usually fade without any treatment.
congenital nevus (“mole”): raised brown spots which are extremely common and can appear anywhere on your child’s body. If your child has a very large mole, you should have it checked out by a pediatrician, as it could increase her risk for skin cancer.
Q: Should my child see a vascular anomalies specialist?
A: Since most birthmarks are completely harmless, most children don’t need to see a specialist. Your child’s pediatrician will keep an eye on the birthmark, provide reassurance and support and put you in touch with a specialist if the situation warrants.
It’s rare that a birthmark is a sign of an underlying abnormality, but it does happen. We do recommend consulting with a vascular anomalies specialist if:
Q: Is my child’s birthmark permanent?
A: Birthmarks come in all shapes and sizes. Some are permanent, and others fade as your child grows.
Q: Did I do something during pregnancy to cause the birthmark?
A: No–there's no known food, medication or activity during pregnancy that can cause a birthmark.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”