Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study discovers key to baby-like skin


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.”

Vernix is a complex mixture of lipids (fats), proteins and water. Babies born at 32 to 33 weeks are covered with the material. Those who are born full term have already lost a good portion of it. The researchers studied full-term infants, half of whom had vernix wiped off and half left intact on the surface of the skin. Skin hydration, moisture accumulation rate, skin pH and visual dryness were measured at one, four and 24 hours after birth.

Skin Sciences Institute researchers have been studying vernix for several years and found that it is not only a moisturizer but also a wound healer, cleanser, anti-infective and antioxidant. Cincinnati Children’s has obtained four patents on vernix technology and hopes to formulate a synthetic equivalent that could be used in a variety of ways: as a film on products ranging from diapers to wound dressings; as a replacement for vernix in low-birthweight, premature infants who are born before vernix develops at about 27 weeks; as a cream or lotion for topical needs; and as a delivery system for other medications.

“We view the production of vernix as analogous to infant formula as a substitute for milk,” says Dr. Visscher. “Nature has figured out how to make it. Long term, we hope to be able to mass produce a synthetic equivalent. There is nothing out there now to take care of these preterm babies, and the list of other applications for vernix is endless.”

The Skin Sciences Institute views infant skin as ideal skin and focuses on the skin as a primary care interface – a biological spacesuit that separates outer from inner space. “Skin is the largest organ in the body, yet it’s often treated as insignificant,” says Stephen Hoath, MD, a neonatologist, medical director of the Skin Sciences Institute and co-author of the study. “You can’t deliver medical care in the home or hospital without paying attention to this interface, and it has a disproportionate impact on patient satisfaction. People assume you can transplant a liver, but if you can’t pull leads off without hurting them, you’re not providing good care.”

The Skin Sciences Institute has established collaborative relationships with major companies involved in skin care as well as skin barrier structure and function, including the Procter & Gamble Co., the Andrew Jergens Company, Kao Corporation, GOJO Industries, Coloplast Corporation, Kenabo, Becton Dickinson, Vyteris, NOVA Technology Corporation, 3M, and W. L. Gore Industries.

Jim Feuer | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>