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Lanugo is fine, downy hair; it is a type of pelage. Often found in Teratomas.


In humans


Fetal development

Lanugo grows on fetuses as a normal part of gestation, but is usually shed and replaced by vellus hair at about 33 to 36 weeks of gestational age. As the lanugo is shed from the skin, it is normal for the developing fetus to consume the hair with the fluid, since it drinks from the amniotic fluid and urinates it back into its environment. Subsequently, the lanugo contributes to the newborn baby's meconium. The presence of lanugo in newborns is a sign of premature birth.


Lanugo can be observed in patients with eating disorders and the malnourished. When found along with other physical findings, lanugo can help a physician make a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. [1]

In non-human animals

Lanugo is also common on other animals. For example, seals[2] and elephants[3][4][5] are often born with a covering of lanugo.


ICD-10 Q84.2
ICD-9 757.4
DiseasesDB 30821
  1. ^ "Treating Eating Disorders in Primary Care", P.M. Williams, et al, American Family Physician, Vol 77 (2): January 15, 2008
  2. ^ Growth and Development of Mediterranean Monk Seal Pups during Rehabilitation, E. Androukaki, E. Fatsea, L. 't Hart, A.D.M.E. Osterhaus, E. Tounta, S. Kotomatas, Monachus Science Posters, The Monachus Guardian, Vol. 5 (1): May 2002, This poster was presented at the 16th ECS (European Cetacean Society) Conference, "Marine Mammal Health: from Individuals to Populations", 7 April–11 April 2002, Liege, Belgium.
  3. ^ Ecology of the Asian Elephant in Lowland Dry Zone Habitats of the Mahaweli River Basin, Sri Lanka Natarajan Ishwaran Journal of Tropical Ecology, Vol. 9, No. 2 (May, 1993), pp. 169-182
  4. ^ The Hair, Paul MacKenzie, Elephant Information Repository website
  5. ^ Elephant Hair, Elephant Anatomy, Animal Corner website

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