Babies who are born premature, or even slightly early may have a thin white hair covering their body and face. This hair is called lanugo, and normally falls off before or shortly after delivery of full term babies.
Lanugo is the name for the hair that grows on the body that is lacking fat, in order to help insulate and regulate body temperature. This happens on fetuses while in the womb, normally around the 5th month of pregnancy, and generally falls off or is consumed by the baby between 36 and 40 weeks of pregnancy. The lanugo is then stored in the babies intestines and helps to make up the meconium, or the first bowel movements your newborn will have.
Lanugo is often described as a soft and downy hair that is covering the newborn. It will be covering the baby’s whole body except for his palms, the sole of his feet, his lips, penis, nails and sides of his fingers and toes. There is no danger to lanugo to the baby or to people who come in contact with the baby.
Properly stated, lanugo is the Latin word for “down”, like the small fine hairs of plants.
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