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What Is Vernix Caseosa?

When you know you will be a mother, curiosity is at high levels. You know to know everything there`s to know about your pregnancy and your future baby. In today`s article we`ll talk about what is vernix caseosa, what are its benefits and other things about it you may not know.

What Is Vernix Caseosa

Table of Contents

What Is Vernix Caseosa?

Vernix caseosa is a white-gray substance of greasy consistency, which covers in thinner or thicker layers the newborn`s skin. This substance, formed from scaly skin cells and sebaceous secretions, is very adherent to the skin. Vernix caseosa is formed during the week 8 of pregnancy and at childbirth is mainly present mostly in envelopes. The substance protects the baby`s skin by the contact with the amniotic fluid. A dark yellow color of this greasy substance may indicate a fetal condition, especially if the term has been exceeded.

Benefits of Vernix Caseosa

It Helps the Baby Adapt to the Extrauterine Life

Besides the fact that by immediate washing, the baby suffers a drastic environmental change and a sudden increase of stress state, vernix caseosa helps him adapt to the extrauterine life through its protein and lipid components. They potentiate each other and, once the birth takes place, this protective layer becomes a defense adaptive mechanism against the environment. – More about this!

It Has Antimicrobial Properties

Not only that, but studies showed that these properties are similar to those of breast milk. It offers the fetus (and of course the newborn, if it isn`t washed at birth) the resistance against infections of a series of pathogens that are quite dangerous, both in the intrauterine and extrauterine environment: E-coli, listeria monocytogenes, Klebsiella pneumonia, streptococcus B, Candida albicans, golden staphylococcus.

It Keeps your Skin Hydrated

Almost anyone knows what dermatological issues newborns have, who have fine skin which seems almost aggressed by the extrauterine environment. A study, performed a few years ago at the Skin Science Institute in Cincinnati, revealed that babies who weren`t washed of vernix caseosa after birth confront later with fewer skin problems. Their skin is more hydrated, it`s rarely descaled, and its pH is stabilized more rapidly than the skin of babies who were washed immediately after birth. Besides this major benefit, vernix caseosa also has the ability of healing wounds, acts as an antioxidant, anti-infective as well as a barrier against loss of water of the epidermis.

It Regulates the Body Temperature

It`s known that immediately after birth, babies have issues with thermoregulation, so they are quickly covered in a blanket. Vernix caseosa would relieve us of this particular stress, if we would let it on the baby`s skin. It would be as a layer of clothing that the parents wouldn`t have to put on the baby anymore.

It Reduces the Risk of Getting Sick in Maternity

The protocol in hospitals stipulates the usage of surgical gloves when there`s a risk for the medical personnel to come in contact with the fluids of patients. A newborn who wasn`t washed of vernix caseosa (he was only a bit taped for the protective layer to enter the skin even better) obliges the medical personnel to wear gloves. And a study showed that this reduced the risk of newborns` getting sick in maternities quite a lot. – Check this!

9 Things That You Need to Know about Vernix Caseosa

It`s a Moisturizing Layer

This is the first beauty product used by your body. The thick substance acts as a sealant, protecting the baby`s skin by the drying effects of the amniotic liquid. Without it, the newborn would look like a wrinkled plum.

It`s a Lubricant

The slippery substance also has lubricant functions, helping the baby to get your more easily at birth.

It`s the Baby`s First Blanket

The covering layer with a cheesy texture keeps the baby warm, helping to the maintenance of proper warm of the baby by isolating his body.

It`s Specific to Human Beings

Humans are the only ones how have babies covered in vernix caseosa.

It Attenuates the Sounds

Although babies will begin hearing voices starting with the week 25 of pregnancy, the sound is pretty dull, because their ears are covered in vernix caseosa, which attenuates the sounds.

Sometimes It`s Missing

In case that your baby is born after term, this layer may not be enough or may lack completely. The reason is because it was probably absorbed completely by the amniotic fluid.

You Don`t Need to Wipe It Out Immediately

You don`t need to hurry and wipe out the protective layer from your baby`s skin immediately. Studies show that the removal of the substance isn`t necessary for reasons of hygiene and if you leave it on the little one`s skin, it can offer lots of benefits regarding the wounds` healing, not to mention that it has an antibacterial effect. The World Health Organization recommends delaying the baby`s first bath for 24 hours.

It Isn`t Always White

In case that this substance isn`t white milky as you would expect and it has a greenish-yellowish color, it shows that the baby has already passed meconium, the first elimination of faeces. And it`s also a good indicator of the fact that you should delete this substance from the little one.

It`s Distributed in Folds

Don`t be surprised if you`ll find this sticky substance hidden among the baby`s wrinkles. This substance “likes” to hide in the vagina pleats for several days or even weeks, but it can be wiped out easily.

Image courtesy of sickkids.ca

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