Excessive hair on newborn babies

  • By Sanjay Akolkar

Is that a baby or a caterpillar? Not quite the best thing to say about a baby, right? Sometimes infants are born with excessive hair on their bodies. Is that normal or can there be any underlying abnormality?

Well it all depends on whether it is Lanugo or CAH!

Normal Cause: Lanugo is a term used for baby hair, which may be excessive, but is normal. These are fine hair, growing on the baby’s body or even on the forehead or cheeks. At times, lanugo can be found all over the body, especially on the back. It is nothing to worry about as it is just a protective shield for the baby, when they are in the womb and will soon drop off.

In full-term pregnancies this soft hair growth, drops off in a month but it could take a while, in the case of premature babies.

Abnormal cause: CAH or Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia is a serious condition where the quantity of male hormones or ‘Androgens’ produced by the baby’s body, is more due to the lack of an enzyme, which is responsible for controlling the hormone production in the body.

Babies with CAH may have low sodium levels, leading to an abnormal heart function and excessive dehydration of the body resulting in shock and trauma. In CAH, the hormone levels have to be monitored by artificially injecting the required hormones to restore the desired levels. The hormones are regulated by the use of steroids and treatment may have to be administered over a long period of time.

The possible side effect arising from CAH is that the baby might be abnormally tall for his age and in later years his height might be stunted. It is best to take medical advice before declaring a baby as having CAH, as hair growth is not the same in all babies. Some babies may be hairier than others; but that doesn’t quite mean he/she has CAH.