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5 Things You Need to Know About Mongolian Spots

5 Things You Need to Know About Mongolian Spots

1. Baby Blues

Mongolian spots are hereditary and are a bluish, brown or gray mark on the skin. Usually located on the lower back, they have ragged edges and appear as either a large mark or a series of smaller spots. Greater than 90 percent of Native American babies are born with Mongolian Spots. They are also very common in children of East Asian, Indonesian, Polynesian, Microneasian, Amerindians and Eskimo descent. The marks themselves form part of the family history and help children feel a strong connection to their family and community.

2. Don't Worry, It's Harmless

Many parents are, understandably, very concerned to see blue marks on their babies, but Mongolian spots are harmless. Appearing either at birth, or in the first week of life, they appear to grow or spread. Adoptive parents often panic about the appearance of these spots and rush to the doctor. The spots themselves are perfectly harmless. There are three types of Mongolian Spots: Persistent, Deep blue and Ectopic. Persistent spots are large and have sharp borders. They often remain visible for many years. Deep blue have a blue tint due to the location of the pigment below the skin surface. Ectopic spots occur when marks are located on the hands and feet.

3. Bruise or Birthmark?

An infant or small child with a series of bluish, gray marks on the buttocks, back and legs look like victims of abuse. The marks look just like bruises, and even fade over time. However, they are often Mongolian spots. When in doubt, consult a family doctor who will be able to diagnose the marks with greater accuracy. Many pediatricians will record the location of the spots in the baby's file for reference purposes.

4. The Amazing Disappearing Spots

Mongolian spots generally fade over time, often disappearing completely before puberty for 85 percent of children. Marks that are still visible after puberty remain into adulthood. Cover the marks with skin tone make-up or remove them with cosmetic laser surgery. Do not have invasive surgery to remove them, as the spots are harmless and the removal process is painful and expensive.

5. Tracing Family Heritage

It's true that Mongolian spots occur in certain communities, but they occur in other groups as well. They provide a very general clue about heritage and cultural group, but nothing truly specific. Adopted children or parents looking to trace family heritage should not rely on Mongolian spots as a key part of the puzzle.

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