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No two haemangiomas are alike

The so-called haemangiomas are the most common tumours in childhood with an incidence of about 10% and are caused by a sponge-like growth of small blood vessels.

The parts of the body where they can be found are as varied as their shape, colour and size. The face is often affected, but haemangiomas can also appear on the arms, legs, genital area and even on internal organs.

The cause lies in the immaturity of the vascular system and so it is not surprising that premature babies and children with a low birth weight are more frequently affected. Either they are already visible from birth or they develop in the first weeks of life.

As unexpectedly as they came, about 85-90% also disappear gradually during toddlerhood.

In addition to the size and the speed of growth, the localisation plays a decisive role in the therapy decision.

Even if the child's health is not immediately at risk, a rapidly growing haemangioma in an unfavourable location such as the eye can lead to impaired vision. If the respiratory tract is affected, it can even be life-threatening.

Therefore, it is advisable to have every haemangioma assessed by an expert. No complex or painful procedures are necessary to make a diagnosis, as it is a visual diagnosis. In some cases, the paediatrician recommends an ultrasound examination to rule out organ involvement, e.g. in the brain or liver. Subsequently, the further procedure is decided together.

For a long time, laser therapy, surgical procedures or drug therapy with cortisone were the predominant treatment methods, until a French research group noticed an unusual correlation in 2008: children who were treated with the blood pressure-lowering drug propanolol due to a cardiovascular disease showed a significant decrease in the number of haemangiomas present. This finding was a huge breakthrough and helped the beta-blocker propanolol to new fame. This is because, compared to the previously known treatment methods, the use of propanolol has significantly fewer side effects and no anaesthesia is required, as is the case with laser therapy, for example.

Since blood pressure fluctuations can occur at the beginning of the medication, a careful dosage in an inpatient setting is absolutely necessary. Here, your child's necessary parameters can be monitored on a monitor. On average, this involves a hospital stay of 3-5 days. Afterwards, you can easily administer the propanolol juice at home. The treatment is continued for about 6 months, with constant observation of the regression, before an attempt is made to stop. Occasionally, new growth may occur after discontinuation of the medication. However, this is usually limited and does not require further therapy.

Wishing you all the love and looking forward to every baby in 2021!

Your Sharon