What is lanugo?

It’s one of those words that gets bandied about in all the pregnancy books, but what is it? And should you be concerned about it?

Lanugo is the Latin word for down, like the fine small hairs on plants. In baby terms, it’s the first hair he will grow, usually at 4-5 months’

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gestation.

What does lanugo look like and do all babies get it?
It’s soft, downy and generally unpigmented, and is usually shed by seven or eight months, so you may not ever see it on your baby. At this point, it

will be replaced by vellus hair, the normal ‘peach-fuzz’ body hair found on all humans.
Sometimes lanugo is present at birth, however, especially on premature babies, in which case it will disappear within a few days or weeks, of its own

accord. Sometimes lanugo hair after birth runs in families.
Lanugo appears pretty much all over the body – everywhere except the palms, soles, lips, penis, nails, and the sides of the fingers and toes. Some people recommend rubbing the hair so that it sheds more quickly, but this is entirely unnecessary, as nature will take its course. Besides, why rush the end of

this short-lived stage of your baby’s life?

Why does it occur?
Lanugo hair grows as a means insulation for your baby; at this stage he has very little body fat to keep him warm, hence the hair.
When the hair

is shed in utero, it is consumed by the unborn baby, and contributes to meconium, baby’s first poo. Interestingly, this type of

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hair is also a common symptom of serious anorexia nervosa, as the body attempts to insulate itself as body fat is lost.

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