What is lanugo?
Lanugo is the fine hair that covers the body of some newborns. This thin, soft body hair is the first type of hair that grows from the hair follicles. It can be found everywhere on a baby’s body, except body parts that do not have hair follicles such as the palms, lips, and soles of the feet.
Most fetuses develop lanugo around the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy and it has many important purposes for babies in the womb. However, the hair is usually not present by the time of birth. It often sheds around the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, although it can linger and shed weeks after birth. Lanugo at birth is more common in premature babies.
Lanugo has many purposes
Protects the skin: In the womb, a thick, white substance called vernix caseosa coats your baby and provides a protective barrier from the effects of the amniotic fluid. Vernix sticks to the lungo to help it stay in place on the skin, otherwise, it would slip right off.
Stimulates growth and development: Some studies suggest that the movement of lanugo on your baby’s skin might play a role in the release of hormones that reduce stress and stimulate their growth inside the womb.
Regulates baby’s temperature: During pregnancy, your baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid and lanugo helps regulate the temperature.
Why are babies born with lanugo?
If your baby is born with lanugo, do not worry! While lungo is very common in preterm babies, full-term babies are often born with it too. Lanugo usually sheds during the first weeks of birth. This does not mean that your baby will keep the hair throughout their childhood. Once lanugo sheds a new hair will grow instead called vellus hair (it’s a lot thinner and less noticeable). This hair will be on your child throughout their childhood, until puberty.