- Women's Health
What Is Lanugo? Why Is My Newborn Baby Covered in Hair?
What Is the Hair on the Body of My Newborn?
Sometimes babies are born with hair on their bodies—more hair than you would usually expect. Why is that? Why are some babies born with "hairy bodies"? If your child is born with more hair than you would expect on a newborn, don't worry! This is actually very normal and not something to worry about. Let's find out why.
Photo of Infant with Lanugo
What Is Lanugo?
Many babies born before their due date still have soft, downy hair, called lanugo, covering their bodies. In fact, in Latin, lanugo means down.
At around five months' gestation the fetal hair follicles produce this first hair, or lanugo. Babies that are born at term have usually shed most of this hair inside the womb, usually around the seventh or eighth month.
Lanugo is believed to help keep the baby warm. At an early gestation, babies do not have a lot of fat stores and the lanugo may help maintain an appropriate body temperature.
What Happens to Lanugo Hair?
At 36 to 40 weeks' gestation the lanugo hair is replaced by vellus hair. This hair is fine and without pigment. It is present on children and adults, and hormones do not play a part in its growth. Interestingly, it is thought that the baby, while in the womb, ingests the lanugo they have shed, and it becomes part of the first bowel movement, or meconium.
Bottom line: If your baby is born with lanugo, there is no cause for concern. The hair eventually falls out and your baby will no longer be "hairy".