What is lanugo?
You’re probably used to seeing longer strands of terminal hair and short strands of vellus hair on your body. But these aren’t the only types of hair common to humans. There’s another type called lanugo.
Lanugo is the hair that covers the body of some newborns. This downy, unpigmented hair is the first type of hair that grows from hair follicles. It can be found everywhere on a baby’s body, except on the palms, lips, and soles of the feet.
Most fetuses develop lanugo around the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. But the hair is usually not present by the time of birth. It often sheds around the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, although it can linger and shed weeks after birth. Lanugo at birth is more common in premature babies.
What is the purpose of lanugo?
Throughout the pregnancy, babies grow and develop in a sac filled with amniotic fluid. This protective fluid cushions the baby.
A baby’s skin is covered with a waxy, cheese-like substance called vernix, which protects the skin from amniotic fluid. Vernix prevents a baby’s skin from chaffing in the womb. Lanugo helps protect the skin and makes it easier for vernix to adhere to a baby’s skin.
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