For nine months before birth, infants soak in a watery, urine-filled environment. Just hours after birth, however, they have near-perfect skin. How is it that nature enables infants to develop ideal skin in such seemingly unsuitable surroundings?
A new study by researchers at the Skin Sciences Institute of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center shows that the answer may be vernix -- the white, cheesy substance that coats infants for weeks before they are born, then is wiped off and discarded immediately after birth. If they’re right, the healthcare implications for newborns and adults could be remarkable.
The study, to be presented May 6 at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Seattle, shows that newborn skin with vernix left intact “is more hydrated, less scaly, and undergoes a more rapid decrease in pH than with vernix removed,” says Marty Visscher, PhD, executive director of the Skin Sciences Institute and the study’s main author. “These beneficial effects of vernix suggest that it should be left intact at birth.”
Jim Feuer | EurekAlert!
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