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Fuzzy Wuzzy

02/17/2012

…was a baby…

Did you know that fetuses are covered in very fine hair called lanugo? Most babies lose this hair prior to entry into the world (normally after about 36 weeks gestational age) as it becomes part of the vernix – a yellowish, creamy substance that typically covers newborn babies. But often times, and in particular if a baby is early, the lanugo can still be on your fuzzy wuzzy baby. This was the case with my son, who was born at 37 weeks.

Lanugo on a Newborn Baby's Back

Per our pediatrician, it can take up to three months for the lanugo to fall off entirely – his took about two months. The National Health Service theorizes that the lanugo is for temperature regulation, but it is not known conclusively what the purpose of the hair is!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. The Biologist permalink
    02/18/2012 11:15

    Most biologists think it actually has no purpose, but rather is an evolutionary ‘left-over’ from long, long ago when human ancestors were much hairier. Fetal monkeys also develop a coat of fur about at that same point of development, but theirs doesn’t fall out!

    For more, read “Why Evolution is True” by Jerry Coyne (a very accessable, interesting book about evolution for non-scientists, written by an evolutionary biologist at the U of Chicago.)

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