Are Stork Bites a Potential Sign of MTHFR?
If you’ve had a baby recently, it’s common to find yourself examining your baby and memorizing their precious little faces for as long as the to-do list will allow. In addition to that, you’ll likely be doing a wide variety of research, google searches, article reading, and social media gazing. While you will learn a lot about your baby during this time, you’ll almost always come across something that causes you to worry.
One of the things you might notice on your newborn is a birthmark. These come in various shapes, sizes, and even colors. While most of them will look like a simple discoloration of the skin, some -- like stork bites -- might look a little more harmful than others.
You’ll find yourself running to Google trying to figure out what this big red mark is on your baby. It’ll look like a rash to many, but this very well could just be a birthmark with no intent on harming your baby.
That’s when social media and blogs start to chime in, which is where the worry starts. You begin reading about the MTHFR gene mutation and how it could be linked to your baby’s stork bite. After a few articles and a large amount of information, you start to build this “worst-case scenario” in your head.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Stork bites can be quite the birthmark to find on your child and they will often look worse than they really are. Don’t worry, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about stork bites, the MTHFR gene mutation, and whether you need to be worried at all.
What Are Stork Bites?
As we’ve already briefly mentioned, stork bites are a certain type of birthmark found on newborns. They have a rash-like figure to them with their red-pink color and can come in a wide range of sizes. It may surprise most parents, but stork bites are found in nearly 30-50% of all babies.
Stork bites are generally found on the back of the neck, forehead, eyelids, and nose. While they will often occur with little-to-no known cause, we do have a little bit of information on how they form. The red-pink color forms when the blood vessels in that area are stretched or dilated.
In fact, many parents will notice the stork bite becomes more visible when the child is angry, crying, or if they experience a change in temperature. The good news is they are benign, meaning they won’t be harming your baby at all. In a strong majority of cases, the stork bite will fade away as your child gets older -- potentially even completely disappear.
If your child ever wishes to remove the stork bite when they’re older, it is possible through laser treatments. This will also be harmless, but should only be done if the child is bothered by it in their older years.
What Is MTHFR?
The term MTHFR is short for Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. It’s an enzyme responsible for aiding the body’s methylation cycle. The MTHFR enzyme is not to be confused with the MTHFR gene, which supplies the coding for the enzyme.
One of the main functions of MTHFR is converting folate into its active form, methylfolate. You might know Folate (natural form) as Vitamin B9 or folic acid (synthetic form). Without being converted into methylfolate, your body will have no use for Vitamin B9. This will throw off a wide range of body functions.
Scientists, doctors, and researchers have known about the MTHFR gene for quite some time, but it wasn’t until recently that it started to gain widespread attention. This started when scientists found a mutation in the MTHFR gene that disrupted the process of converting folate into the active form.
As a matter of fact, they would end up finding several mutations of the MTHFR gene, though only two of them would raise eyebrows -- C677T and A1298C. Since their discovery, we’ve learned quite a bit about these two mutations.
First off, we know that it’s possible to have zero, one, or two copies of the MTHFR gene mutation. The more you have, the harder it is for your body to convert folate. We also know that the mutations are inherited from your parents since children receive one copy from each parent -- that’s where we get the two copies from.
Having a mutation has been linked to a wide variety of health concerns such as depression, other mental disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and birth defects -- like stork bites.
When can histamine be a problem?
When histamine is present in your bloodstream, it can affect your gut, lungs, skin, brain, and entire cardiovascular system. This results in a variety of unpleasant symptoms. It can also make it difficult to pinpoint histamine as a cause of the symptoms, which complicates the diagnosis.
In most cases, histamine is broken down by enzymes in your body, which prevents it from building up. But if these enzymes aren’t working properly histamine quickly accumulates. This can lead to histamine intolerance.
Because histamine plays so many different parts in how your body functions, symptoms of an intolerance are broad and can easily be confused for other things, such as food allergies.
We have to be extremely careful when trying to link stork bites to an MTHFR gene mutation. Social media and blogs will try to throw it down your throat that stork bites are a potential sign of MTHFR, but that’s not exactly true.
The truth is scientists haven’t found any link between the two. That doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t one, but that they haven’t found one yet.
One of the major reasons the two are often linked together is because they’re both highly common in newborn babies. It is estimated that nearly 20-40% of all newborns will suffer from an MTHFR gene mutation, while stork bites are found in nearly 30-40% of newborns. Since it’s more than possible to have both, you can see how they can get mixed together.
There is one instance in particular where a stork bite might be cause for concern and that’s when it is located over the spine. This could be a potential sign of Spina Bifida, a birth defect that disrupts the development of the spine. In this case, Spina Bifida has been linked to MTHFR mutation.
MTHFR has actually been linked to a variety of neural tube birth defects, despite not being directly linked to stork bites.
Should You Get Tested Anyway?
If you’ve noticed a potential birth defect in your child, especially spina bifida, there’s a chance the MTHFR mutation is playing a role. While there will often be several things you need to do to fix the problem, treating the mutation will certainly help.
Keep in mind that children inherit the mutation from their parents. If your child were to have an MTHFR gene mutation, then either you or your husband also have it -- if not both of you. Since a mutation can have negative effects on adults, this is something you’ll want to know. In many cases, you can also find relief even when you didn’t know you needed it.
One of the major concerns with MTHFR gene mutations in adults is high homocysteine levels in the blood. This can lead to pale skin, weakness, fatigue, tingling, dizziness, mouth sores, and mood changes. Those suffering from a mutation can reduce and prevent these concerns in a variety of ways, but most people won’t know they suffer from it.