AskDefine | Define birthmark

Dictionary Definition

birthmark n : a blemish on the skin formed before birth [syn: nevus]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

birth + mark

Pronunciation

Noun

  1. A mark on the skin formed before birth.

Synonyms

Translations

See also

Extensive Definition

A birthmark is a blemish on the skin formed before birth. They are part of the group of skin lesions known as "naevi". They are not hereditary. They are soft raised swellings on the skin, often with a bright red surface, and some may look a bit like a strawberry. They are also known as "strawberry naevi" or as "infantile haemangiomas". They appear after birth, usually in the first month, and can occur anywhere on the skin. They are more of a problem when they affect the face. The cause of birthmarks is not fully understood. They are a benign overgrowth of blood vessels in the skin, and are made up of cells that usually form the inner lining of blood vessels. They are thought to occur as a result of a localized imbalance in factors controlling the development of blood vessels. Strawberry marks affect as many as one in ten newborn Caucasian babies but only about 1% of Asian and black children have them. They are particularly common in premature babies. Strawberry marks are not a sign of ill health, or associated with cancer.
Birthmarks are called voglie in Italian, antojos in Spanish, and wiham in Arabic; all of which translate to "wishes" because, according to folklore, they are caused by unsatisfied wishes of the mother during pregnancy. For example, if a pregnant woman does not satisfy a sudden wish or craving for strawberries, it's said that the infant might bear a strawberry mark.

Types

A number of different types of birthmarks are known that include, but are not limited to, stork bites, Mongolian blue spots, strawberry marks, café au lait spots, congenital melanocytic nevi, and port-wine stains.
birthmark in Esperanto: Nevuso
birthmark in Hebrew: סימן לידה
birthmark in Dutch: Naevus
birthmark in Russian: Родинка
birthmark in German: Storchenbiss

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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