Throughout the years, many cultures have developed an assortment of myths and superstitions to explain birthmarks babies may be born with. Although medical science can offer an adequate and factual explanation for these—often cosmetic—marks, these myths still persist. Here is the truth behind two myths about port wine stains to ensure those affects receive adequate treatment for these birthmarks.
Port Wine Stains are Caused by Something the Mother Ate
One of the most common myths about port wine stains is the mother did something while the child was in utero to cause the birthmark to appear. For instance, some cultures believe that overeating certain foods—such as collard greens—leads to the staining. Other cultures think the birthmark comes from the mother not giving into her food cravings and scratching herself during the episode (the mark is supposed to resemble the food she craved and denied herself).
In truth, port wine stains are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in the area where the birthmark appears. Although these birthmarks can be hereditary, nothing the mother does during her pregnancy contributes to their appearance on the baby. While it's good for moms to make healthy choices when carrying the baby and nursing, there's no need to fret about which cravings to indulge and which to avoid during that time period.
You Should Wait to Treat Port Wine Stains
Another myth that comes up with patients sometimes is that port wine stains should be treated when a child is older. The only effective way to get rid of port wine stain birthmarks is to use a laser to destroy the excess blood vessels feeding the affected area, and some people feel this may be harmful to infants and babies.
Truthfully, though, the earlier treatment begins, the higher the chances the birthmark will be removed without too many problems. That's because the blood vessels tend to be smaller at that time and, so, more easily treatable. Port wine stains grow in size as the child grows, which make them harder to eliminate with each passing year.
Additionally, depending on the size and location of the birthmark, a port wine stain can have a significantly negative impact on a child's self-esteem. Unfortunately, society still judges people on their appearance, and a large or unsightly birthmark can lead to the child being ridiculed by other kids or treated differently by adults. Thus, it's best to take care of the problem while the child is still a baby.
For more information about port wine stains or treatment options, contact a healthcare provider.