A hemangioma is a birth mark. About 20 to 40 percent of newborns have some type of birthmark, most of which are not serious and will usually disappear with time.
The most common birthmark is the salmon patch, which appears as a small, flat, pinkish skin discoloration. It’s often called Angel’s Kiss when it appears on a baby’s eyelid, or a Stork Bite when it’s on the neck.
Hemangiomas are less common birthmarks and are caused by the growth of immature blood vessels. They most often appear on a baby’s face, scalp and chest, but can be found on any part of the body in the form of raised, firm, bright red bumps that may resemble a strawberry. Deeper tissue hemangiomas can appear blue in color.
Hemangiomas can be worrisome because although they may start out small, or even absent at birth, they can grow quite rapidly during the first six months of life. After that, they tend to grow at the same rate as the child until at some point they start to shrink. Hemangiomas are not serious and about half will disappear on their own in the first five years. Almost all hemagiomas will disappear completely in 10 years. The only time hemangiomas need treatment is if they are in a sensitive area, such as the scalp where they can be aggravated by hair brushing, or over the eye where they can obscure vision.
Dr. Jeremy Friedman is the chief of the division of Paediatric Medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. He is an associate professor in the department of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. Dr Friedman is the associate editor of the Canadian Paediatric Society's journal, Paediatrics and Child Health and has co-edited three bestselling books for parents, including the most recent Caring for Kids; The Complete Guide to Children’s Health (Key Porter 2006) and The Baby Care Book (Robert Rose 2007). The Toddler Book will be released in spring 2009.
He lives in Toronto, with his wife and two young children.