Stork Bites: What to Know About Baby's Birthmark

Stork bites are the most common type of birthmark seen on newborns, but what are they? Read on to learn more.

Newborn baby girl sleeping in her crib, lit by the morning sun; stork bites visible on forehead and eyelids

DeymosHR / Shutterstock

If you've noticed some flat, pink markings on your baby's head—or the back of their neck—you're probably looking at a kind of birthmark often referred to as a stork bite. Stork bites are the most common type of birthmark seen on newborns. They are completely harmless and will usually fade within a year or two. But what are they then, annd are they ever cause for concern?

Here's what you need to know about stork bites, including what they look like, what causes them, when to expect them to fade or disappear, and whether they ever require treatment.

What Is a Stork Bite?

A stork bite is a type of vascular birthmark, which refers to a birthmark made up of blood vessels. Any pink, purple, or blue birthmark is a vascular birthmark. Other vascular birthmarks include port-wine stains (nevus flammeus) and hemangiomas (often referred to as strawberry birthmarks). The official medical term for a stork bite is nevus simplex, which is defined as a birthmark that is made up of capillaries (tiny, red blood vessels).

Different terms are often used for nevus simplex birthmarks. Sometimes they are referred to as "salmon patches." When the birthmark is located between a baby's eyes, these type of birthmarks are often called "angel's kisses." Nexus simplex birthmarks that are found on the back of the neck are the ones usually referred to as "stork bites." This is probably because, in fairytales, a stork carries the infant to its parents by the back of the neck.

Whatever the case, all of these terms refer to the same thing: a harmless, vascular birthmark called a nevus simplex.

How Common Are They?

Stork bites are the most common newborn birthmark. One study found that more than 80% of newborns have one. Other sources estimate that 1 in every 3 newborns have a stork bite. The bottom line? These types of birthmarks are prevalent, and parents and pediatricians spot them on newborns all the time.

What Causes Stork Bites?

Stork bites occur when blood vessels get stretched. Because stork bites involve the capillaries, they may respond to the changes in your newborn or their environment. For example, stork bites tend to darken when your baby cries, is fussy, or is more active. They also change color in reaction to temperature variations.

Where Do Stork Bites Usually Appear?

Your baby may have one or several stork bites. These birthmarks can be found on several parts of the body, such as:

  • The nape of the neck
  • Between the eyebrows
  • On the eyelids
  • On the forehead
  • On the lower back

The may also be located on or beneath the nose.

What Do Stork Bites Look Like?

Stork bites are flat and usually pink or light red in color. They often look patchy and tend to have irregular shapes and, when you gently press on a stork bite, they tend to blanch.

How Are Stork Bites Diagnosed?

Because stork bites are so common, pediatricians usually diagnose them on sight. They don't require imaging testing or a biopsy. But if your physician has any doubt that what your baby has is a stork bite, they may send you to a pediatric dermatologist for a second opinion.

Will a Stork Bite Go Away on Its Own?

Stork bites found on your baby's face will usually fade within the first one to three years of life. Stork bites found on the nape of the neck or other parts of the body may last a little longer and may not disappear altogether, though they frequently fade. Roughly 50% of adults still have a stork bite, though these are usually quite faded.

Do Stork Bites Need Treatment?

Stork bites are considered harmless and don't require treatment for medical purposes. But if your child has a large stork bite that isn't fading, you might want to have it removed for cosmetic purposes.

If your child is past the age when stork bites usually fade (over the age of 3 or so) and has a large, noticeable stork bite, laser treatments may be an option for you. Laser treatments use light and heat to lighten the color of skin lesions like birthmarks. Treatments are not painful to your child and can be done at a dermatologist's office.

Although stork bites are nothing to worry about, you should always keep in touch with your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child's birthmarks or skin. Occasionally, larger stork bites can occur (referred to as "nevus simplex complex"). Uncommonly, these larger stork bites are linked to conditions like macrocephaly-capillary malformation or Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, both of which are rare genetic syndromes.

Contact your provider if you notice changes in your child's birthmark, including color, size, and shape. Get in touch with your provider if the birthmark is bleeding and is causing pain or discomfort for your child.

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  1. A prospective study of cutaneous findings in newborns in the United States: correlation with race, ethnicity, and gestational status using updated classification and nomenclature. J Pediatr. 2012.

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