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3/16/03



  

Big Belly Postpartum Hair Loss And Your Baby

By Amy Norton 3/5/03

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The hair loss that many women have after giving birth can be more than a nuisance--occasionally, those shed hairs can get wrapped around baby's toes, creating a "tourniquet" that cuts off the circulation.

The condition is not very common, and the exact incidence is not known," Dr. R. Scott Strahlman of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore told Reuters Health, "but most pediatricians and emergency room physicians will see (it) at least once in their careers.

The condition, referred to as toe tourniquet syndrome, occurs when a loose hair or thread becomes so tightly wrapped around a baby's toes that pain, swelling and discoloration occur.

Fingers can also get wrapped up, but the toes are most often the victim. And when babies are affected, it's usually at an age when their mothers' post-delivery hair loss is at its peak--around four months after the birth.

Strahlman said that in his 18 years as a pediatrician, he's cared for three babies with toe tourniquet syndrome--including his youngest son.

He reports on his son's case in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics.

According to Strahlman, the 3-month-old baby had become excessively "fussy," which was at first attributed to run-of-the-mill gas. Only during the baby's bath two days later was it discovered that three of his toes were "entrapped" by a hair. One of the toes was swollen, purple and tender to the touch.

 At the time, his mother was going through "massive postpartum hair loss," according to Strahlman.

He treated his son by carefully removing the hair and treating the wounds with a topical antibiotic.

In other cases, though, Strahlman points out, the problem has been known to lead to permanent tissue damage, and even loss of the appendage, if not treated promptly.

That makes preventing the problem key, according to the pediatrician.

"I think the hallmark of prevention is the regular inspection of a baby's toes, which is something that most parents don't think of, and most pediatricians don't advise," Strahlman said.

"I would make it a point to inspect at least twice a day," he added.

In the report, Strahlman notes that "mothers with long hair need to be especially vigilant."

And besides checking babies' toes, he said, it's "just as important" to turn babies' footed clothing inside-out to check for stray hairs.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 




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