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About Sickkids
About SickKids

June 28, 2007

Study finds corticosteroids offer effective treatment for "Strawberry Marks"

Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) have found that corticosteroids administered orally can effectively stop the growth and even reduce the size of congenital benign skin lesions in infants. These lesions—dense, usually elevated masses of dilated blood vessels called hemangiomas—are the most common benign tumours of infancy, occurring in about ten per cent of children by one year of age. Sometimes called “Strawberry Marks,” they are seen more frequently in girls, premature infants and twins.

Although most resolve spontaneously, ten to twenty per cent require treatment because they cause visual impairment or disfigurement. Typically treatment is a systemic course of anti-inflammatory corticosteroids administered orally. The SickKids study published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics, found that infants treated with oral corticosteroids experienced greater improvement in the size of the lesion compared to patients who were given the medication intravenously.

In addition to reducing the size of the hemangioma, infants who had a lesion near or on the tissue surrounding the eye also experienced improvement in their vision, even when the appearance of the lesion did not change significantly. In some instances there was improvement even though the lesion did not appear to be reduced, probably due to normalizing of the facial contour.

Administered orally, corticosteroids offered more clinical and biological benefit than when introduced intravenously, although there was also a higher risk of adverse effects such as hypertension and growth retardation. The study also concluded that pulse steroids may play a role in treating hemangiomas when a fast therapeutic response is needed, for example if the lesion is on the eyelid.

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The Hospital for Sick Children