Three Things To Know If Your Baby Is Born With A Port Wine Stain

Hearing the hearty cry of your newborn is a relief for all new parents. After all, having a healthy baby is your number-one concern. But if your child is born with a cosmetic imperfection like a port wine stain, you may be seeking more information about what it is and what you can do.

A port wine stain, also called nevus flammeus, is a common type of birthmark that affects roughly 1 in 300 babies. The pink, red, purple or light blue skin discoloration occurs because capillaries under the skin are too large, which leads to darkening the skin. Most people with port wine stains have them on their face, neck, scalp, arms, or legs, but they can form anywhere on the body. Here are three important things to know:

1. Port wine stains are usually not indicative of any other health issue.

Most port wine stains, especially those that are not on the face, will have little impact on your child's health or well-being. 

However, there are some medical issues that are related to port wine stains. Scientists discovered the gene mutation that is responsible for the birthmark can also cause Sturge-Weber Syndrome. Sturge-Weber is rare but can affect other areas of the body, including the brain, eyes, organs and endocrine system. Less than 15 percent of children born with facial port wine stains will have any related health concerns.

Your child may be screened more diligently for some health issues like glaucoma as he or she grows, but generally the birthmark is not a medical concern.

2. Port wine stains usually get darker.

As children get older, the birthmark will often get darker and will expand with the growing skin. In many cases, the affected skin can turn from smooth to textured in the late teen years or in early adulthood. This isn't for certain, though; in some cases, the discoloration will get lighter on its own. 

3. Port wine stains can be minimized. 

If your child has a port wine stain on his or her face, it may become a cosmetic issue as they enter their pre-teen or teen-age years. If your child becomes self-conscious about a port wine stain, there are cosmetics that can lighten or completely hide the birthmark. 

If you have any concerns about your child's birthmark, your doctor should be able to reassure you. As your child gets older, your doctor can discuss whether laser therapies will be useful in reducing the size or darkness of the port wine stain. For more information, contact establishments like Shriners Hospitals for Children – Cincinnati.