Strawberry Birthmarks

Causes of a Strawberry Birthmark

A strawberry birthmark, also called a “port wine stain” is actually common and in most cases, nothing of risk.  Usually, this type of birthmark is seen on the face or neck but it can also be found on the limbs, lower back, thighs, and stomach.  The name comes from the birthmark being red in color and often, shaped to resemble a strawberry.  Babies are born with a birthmark such as this and while sometimes it shows up immediately, it is more common for the birthmark to appear between four and eight weeks of age.

The strawberry birthmark is so common that recent studies show one in every twenty babies have one although the location and size varies.  A birthmark such as this can develop in more than one way.  For instance, when blood vessels collect during the development of a fetus, the birthmark could form.  In addition, when a fetus has an overgrowth of red blood cells, it could also result in a birthmark.  Although not proven, some medical experts believe that a strawberry birthmark goes along with the birth of a premature baby.

Although medical expertise of today’s society clearly explains the strawberry birthmark, this particular skin condition has long been plagued by old wives tales.  One is that if the mother eats too many strawberries or picks a significant amount of strawberries while being pregnant, the baby is born with the mark.  However, because this condition is so common, new research has gone into finding the actual cause.  Latest developments indicated this birthmark could actually be genetic.  In this case, there would be family members predisposed to the condition, which is why some babies would have a birthmark and others would not.

Another interesting fact about the strawberry birthmark is that for some people, the red coloration will begin to fade over time and sometimes, the mark will disappear altogether.  For the birthmark that does not go away, doctors would typically monitor it.  The reasons are that if the birthmark grew or if it were large and located in a specific part of the body, it could cause problems.  As an example, with these birthmarks being so common, it would be expected to see some babies having one close to the eye.  If the birthmark were in the crease, the child might have difficulty blinking.

Although it is relatively uncommon, there are times when this type of birthmark must be removed.  As in the case above, whenever function is disrupted, removal would be imminent.  However, only a qualified doctor could make that call, providing parents with the pros and cons of having the birthmark removed.  Often, doctors will use less aggressive treatment to include laser therapy prior to surgery but this would be based on many things, such as the severity of the birthmark, location, but also the child’s age.

As far as any life-threatening concerns, this type of birthmark is harmless.  The only consideration would be any growth or color change.  For this reason, the baby’s doctor would simply keep an eye on the mark to make sure it is nothing more than an annoyance.  Of course, in cases when the birthmark is extremely large, surgery may be considered simply to provide the child with a more normal life.  Obviously, having a large strawberry birthmark in a visible area of the body would cause problems of self-consciousness.