Accidental discovery helping infant birthmarks disappear

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 HealthLink

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KING5.com

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 24 at 12:01 PM

Ten-percent of newborns will develop hermangioma. Like Myla Hershey, neither her parents nor her doctors noticed anything at first, but that changed after three months.

"It was like a big slab of, looked like meat, on her forehead and it was actually weighing her eyebrow down," Myla’s mom Jennifer Hershey.

Dr. Jonathan Perkins with Seattle Children's says no one knows what causes these benign tumors, but they can appear anywhere in or on the body.

"They seem to occur in all ethnic groups, but one interesting thing is that two-thirds are in girls. They're associated with prematurity and advanced maternal age,” said Dr. Perkins.

Until now, doctors would treat the tumors with steroids, chemotherapy and surgery. But doctors in France were treating a heart patient with a common beta blocker when the child's hemangioma suddenly began to fade away.

“We have no idea how propranolol works on blood vessels or hemangiomas,” said Dr. Perkins.

Dr. Perkins is one of the few researchers in the country now trying to answer that question and why the drug helps some patients and not others.

In Myla, the changes began within days.

“It started to fade first, get lighter, and to shrink,” said Dr. Perkins.

Now, after a year on the medicine, her hermangioma is barely there and doctors say it won't come back.
 

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