Asian American Medical Hazard: Mongolian Spots

“What are those?” I asked as I pointed to bruiselike, blueish black patches on The Daughter as she was being examined by her pediatrician.

“Just Mongolian spots,” replied the pediatrician.

“But we’re not Mongolian!” I said, surprised.

mongspotWhether you are Mongolian or of some other Asian descent, Mongolian spots can be a real hazard.  Some 90-95% of Asian babies are said to have them.  They aren’t a direct threat to a baby’s health, but as attested here and here, they can be the cause of false accusations of child abuse, with children even being taken from their parents by Child Protective Services when the blueish black spots are mistaken for bruises.  They typically fade away after a few months or years.  Some adoption support organizations recommend that if you adopt a Asian (or any other ethnicity) baby with Mongolian spots, that you have this well documented.  I can’t imagine what kind of anguish a parent would feel to have their baby taken away over something totally not their fault.

The Wife and I never had any problems with our three kids because of Mongolian spots, most likely because they never were in daycare as infants.  It’s also worth mentioning that African-Americans and Hispanics commonly have them, and some 10% of white people have them.  I even found an story about an African-American mother who really wanted to find one on her son.   Given some of the above incidents, it’s probably a good idea to have Mongolian spots documented in a baby’s medical record no matter what ethnicity that baby might be.

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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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