I freaked out.
I checked her car seat to see if there were any uneven surfaces that could be causing irritation. I checked her crib, blankets, swing, and bouncy seat. Nothing. Everything was soft, even, and looked quite cozy. Then I started thinking down a path I didn't ever think I'd go down. Had someone done this to Meg? I recounted every moment of every day - had Meg ever been out of my sight unattended, and if so, with whom? The answer came quickly and easily - - a firm no. I'd never left her with anyone, babysitter or otherwise. For heavens sakes, I couldn't even put the child down for bed without great sadness at our separation through the night until morning. I held her every second of every day that I could - and rarely shared.
Anyway, Dr. Owens' answer was simple: MONGOLIAN SPOTS. Well, I smoothly explained, Meg was not of Mongolian descent so clearly that wasn't accurate. And with her sweet, empathetic smile, Dr. Owens explained Mongolian Spots:
Mongolian Spots are flat, irregular shaped birthmarks commonly seen in children Asian, East Indian, African, or Latino descent. According to the American Journal of Dermatology, at least 90 percent of people of African heritage have these marks, as do over 80 percent of Asians. And in spite the name, Mongolian spots have no known anthropologic significance, except for being more common in darker-skinned infants. (Although 10 percent of Caucasians also have Mongolian spots. There's always an exception, right?)
Mongolian spots are harmless. They are benign and are not associated with any illnesses or risk factors. They usually fade in a few years and often disappear completely by puberty. Rarely do they persist into adulthood, however, there is no need for treatment. The majority of these spots are gone by around age 2.
Yet another oppotunity to educate!
Since Mongolian spots can easily be mistaken for bruises, they have on occasion triggered accusations of child abuse. If your child had a caregiver, other than yourself, perhaps explain in advance what these marks are to avoid confusion. If appropriate, consider making others aware who are in regular contact with your child; grandparents, neighbors, or other family members.
And just a little trivia...in some cultures, Mongolian Spots are considered beauty marks and you're missing out if you don't have them. (Too bad for us!)
According to one mom, Katie, "My son has the cutest Mongolian spot right on his little booty. We think it's darling and hope it never fades!"
So...if you notice these spots on your baby, just enjoy them as another unique characteristic of your amazing child and his ethnicity!