A few weeks after my daughter was born I noticed some bruises on her lower back. I asked my wife:

What happened!?

She said the marks were there since birth. I thought maybe she bruised easily. Some months passed and I noticed she still had the bruises in the same spots. I freaked out!

I asked my wife and she told me that’s normal most babies in Japan have them.

I was like where! What?! That is not normal!

My wife told me that most Asian babies get these bruises after birth. I didn’t believe her and this lead to some research.

What was it?

A German anthropologist first discovered this medical phenomenon in 1885 and this is now commonly referred to as a Mongolian Spot (Jacobs, & Walton, 1976). Essentially, a Mongolian spot is caused when a pigmented area of the skins surface, has large concentrations of skin cells called melanocytes. These melanocytes make the babies skin appear bruised.

Not the only case

Now I’m not the only one to freak about this. Although 90% of people of Asian decent are born with Mongolian spots, 10% of people of White European decent, experience them as well. When the Radice family in the United Kingdom found Mongolian spots on their baby, they almost sued the hospital ( Radice, 2002). But as they and many other parents found, they can occur in other populations outside of Asians.

How long will they last?

Most cases are cleared up in the first 5 years but none last past puberty. So I’m looking at these as birthmarks that will disappear soon. Even after living in Japan for over 3 years, I’m still learning new things because of the culture. Either way I’m just glad she is healthy and they weren’t the sign of something more serious.

Social Gelo with Angelo

Angelo Ferrer (M.S. Psychology)



Jacobs, A. H., & Walton, R. G. (1976). The incidence of birthmarks in the neonate. Pediatrics,              58(2), 218-222.

Radice S. (2002, July 7). Black and Blue. Retrieved from             http://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/jul/07/features.magazine 137. 

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