October 20, 2008

Cause of Infantile Hemangioma Found

A U.S.-led team of medical scientists says it's discovered the cause of the rapid growth seen in infantile hemangioma, a common childhood tumor.

Researchers said the tumors, consisting of proliferating blood vessels, affect up to 10 percent of children of European descent, with girls more frequently afflicted than boys. The growths appear within days of birth -- most often as a single, blood-red lump on the head or face -- and grow rapidly during the ensuing months. Most tumors disappear entirely by the end of puberty. Although benign, the tumors can cause disfigurement or clinical complications.

The scientists led by the Harvard Medical School said the findings might lead to a non-invasive treatment for the condition.

The study was a collaboration of scientists from Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston and the de Duve Institute at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels.

The research is detailed in the journal Nature Medicine.