What are Mongolian Spots?

My daughter was born with a birthmark on her buttocks. The doctor said it is called a “Mongolian spot”. Could you provide information on Mongolian spots, such as what causes them and how parents can deal with them? Thank you Dr. Greene.
A. Hafso – Alberta, Canada

What Are Mongolian Spots

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

Several years ago, I met a little girl who had been taken from her parents because authorities noticed that her body, especially her buttock, was covered with large, deep bruises. She and her parents were ripped from one another, for her own good. I can only imagine what they each felt. Child abuse charges were eventually dropped, when these “bruises” were correctly diagnosed as Mongolian spots.

These flat birthmarks can be deep brown, slate gray, or blue-black in color. They do sometimes look similar to bruises. The edges are often, but not always, indistinct. They are most common on the lower back and buttocks, but are often found on the legs, back, sides, and shoulders. They vary from the size of a pinhead to six inches or more across. A child may have one or several.

At least one Mongolian spot is present on over 90% of Native Americans and people of African descent, over 80% of Asians, over 70% of Hispanics, and just under 10% of fair-skinned infants (Clinical Pediatric Dermatology, 1993). Despite the name, Mongolian spots have no known anthropologic significance, except for being more common in darker-skinned infants.

Mongolian spots are nothing more than dense collections of melanocytes, the skin cells which contain melanin, the normal pigment of the skin. When the melanocytes are close to the surface, they look deep brown. The deeper they are in the skin, the more bluish they look. Either way, they are not related to bruises or any other medical condition. They do not predispose to skin cancer or any other problem.

Mongolian spots are present at birth, and most of them fade (at least somewhat) by age two. Most have completely disappeared by age five. If Mongolian spots remain at puberty, they are likely to be permanent. Fewer than five percent of children with Mongolian spots still have any by adulthood. Those who do tend to be the ones with multiple, widespread spots, or with spots in unusual locations.

If your daughter’s spot were in a very unusual location, I might suggest asking her physician to confirm the diagnosis. Since your daughter’s spot is on her buttocks, since these spots are entirely benign, and since most will disappear without trace, I would relax and wait. In the unlikely event that it is still present after puberty, there may (by then) be safe, painless, effective ways to remove them — if she should so choose.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

  1. Egbeji kristabell

    When I was little, I had the mark on my leg at first I thought it was a birth mark, but as I got bigger the mark got bigger and wider as well on the both sides of my thigh and now am seeing one on my left buttocks a small dot, but it growing bigger and its embarrasing and I don’t have it in my blood line.

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  2. Eliza

    My son has one right above his tush and my cousin had them all over when he was younger. Is this a genetic thing or just something that randomly happens to infants and small children

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  3. Vanna

    I have a Mongolian spot on my butt. I was also taken from my mother when I was a baby because child services suspected abuse. The same happened to my son. Charges were dropped eventually of course.
    But my question is that why I still have mine even though they’re supposed to disappear after infancy. Does it mean anything? Should I get it checked out?

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    • Tara

      My 21 year old daughter has a large one on her back, side and rear. It has never faded. My 16 year old nephew had the exact same one and his is gone.

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    • shanine

      Maybe it’s just heredity.

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    • Beth

      I am 19 and still have a bright blue one. I recently found out that my heritage is Native American, my whole life I was told I was Mexican. After doing research I found out it was suppose to disappear by the age of 10. So no idea why I still have it lol. But did find out it’s because of the Native American heritage.

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      • Victoria

        Mexican is Native American lol

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        • Vada White

          No native American is Indian!!! Such as black foot, Cherokee, Shawnee,ect. There’s your lol.

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    • Natasha

      It’s states at the top that if its still there after puberty most likely it is permenant .

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  4. Sasha

    I read they are present from birth. My son has a large one on his butt, and it is fading. He just turned 2. But 2 more smaller spots have formed near his spine on his mid and upper back. Do MS appear later or are they always at birth?

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  5. Jerry Adams

    I’m 69 yr old white males and have a big bruise between my shoulder blades have been to doctors but no one ever said anything until I bought it up. My doctor finally told me what it is finally. So I guess nothing can be done for it he just shrugged it off.

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  6. Stefanie Davis

    My daughter has two mongolian spots and ppl have said oh she has a bruise. I proudly say no they are mongolian spots. My husband and his sister had them but they haven’t been able to source where they have come from. My mother in law has done some research and is yet to find out if it is from European or aboriginal background. Do you know how i can find out? Where i could find out? Please. I really want to know so i can tell my daughter :-)

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    • KT

      I’m 46 and I have prominent large marks on my back about Palm size. Both my kids have them on their butts but my son is darker and his faded as he aged and my daughter unfortunately has them in the center of her lower back but they are not as “green”. I’m African American outside but my DNA shows Africa and Great Britain with the latter being the highest percentage. I’m fair skinned but tan easily and my spots are still green and very visible. I hope you find where cause I’d love to know as well.

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  7. Em

    My best friend is 26 years old and has one covering her whole left eye. I’ve known her since we were 12 and 13 years old so I’m used to seeing it. I never really gave it a 2nd thought, it was always just kind of there. People ask her all the time if she got punched in the face though and she’s always wondered what kind of birthmark it was. Now I can tell her!

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    • Nancy

      My daughter is 13months ans she has it in her forehead and around her eye!

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      • Flyby

        My son has it on his forehead and eye socket also, he is mixed black and white.

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        • Amanda Lynch

          That sounds more like a nevus of ota. My daughter has the same thing. The white of her eye is blue.

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  8. betty jane stormes

    bi racial children tend to have them on the butts! (African American and white )

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  9. Jonesy

    I’m 32 and I still have both of mine. My youngest brother and sister were born with then and they both faded as they got older.

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  10. Rauqle

    Both of my sons have it and cps took my sons out of my house saying I beat them and my doc said they ain’t bruises marks are Mongolian spots known I been fight to get my both sons back.

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  11. Tanya Griffin

    Do mongolian spots shrink?

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    • Marlen

      My son is 4 months old and was born with 2 blueish marks on his left wrist and arm. His dr. thinks is a Mongolian spot. Dr. Greene, do you agree?

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      • priscilla

        They are. My son has them I on both hands legs and bottom

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  12. Jennyfer

    In the Philippines the Mongolian spots are very common among infants.

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  13. Jov

    I am 23. From India. Racially – Mongoloid race. There’s this dark blue looking patches in my face on my right forehead side. But it increase over years. Down to my eye brows…bluish … Which colour looks like veins.
    I could send you photos. But no option to add.
    It doesn’t hurt me. It’s a colour pigment changes. It increases thats worrying me.

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    • Nancy

      My daugher is 11 months and she has it in her forehead and around her left eye and all the way to her cheek bones. I get asked all the time if its a bruise, i gladly say its a birthmark.

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  14. Adri

    Should I be concerned if my baby has these birth marks in her eyes also?! I’m really scared

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    • Amanda Lynch

      You should take her to an ophthalmologist to keep an eye on it. My daughter is 10 and we go yearly. It is called a nevus of ota.

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  15. Alicia

    To all the parents that have had your children’s marks questioned by the lack of knowledge of very trusted professionals or child care personnel, Be proud to share your horrible experience and assisting those with the potential devastation equal or possibly greater than yours if permanent removal or damage to a child’s quality of life is in jeopardy under these circumstances. I really hope all the parents that know of situations like this spread the word Like you have and save the heartache of all parents and children alike facing this dilemma in the future. Knowledge is power and I’m not a parent I’m an adult with a lower back spot.

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  16. markbirth

    Hi all, my son was born with this birthmark and the pedrician explained what it was when he was giving my son his general checkup exam before leaving the hospital , it smiled and said it was common in coloured babies, the doctor a lovely chap, was himself black and he explained it would fade. My son is 12 and I think it was gone by age 3 or younger. It never bothered us …and it was on his bum, and about 6 inches. My partner is English and I am irish and certainly no foreign blood in me, Irish to the core, not very exotic!, my partner is English, dark hair, sallow skin, his mum is English and dad English and we believe there is french ancestors way back, would it be possible the spot is from this era. I would love to find out as I think it’s quite interesting what lies in our genes.. my son has v dark hair and lovely sallow skin and is complemented on his looks and coloring wherever he goes, his younger sister, of exactly same mother and father, is as pale as the driven snow and blonde and grey eyes and so pale at times looks washed out,, she didn’t have any birth mark… so I find it fasinating that 2 children of exact parents can have different colouring, and still look the similar. When we go on holidays, locals think he is Spanish, and we are Spanish family . And we think it’s lovely… can anyone tell me if one can have a genetic test to determine our past genetic make up… would be interesting to find out…..

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    • Sneaks

      Calling people coloured is very offensive…
      Just an FYI to save you from someone whom isn’t as tolerant as I.

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      • Amanda Lynch

        Coloured isn’t an offensive terms in some countries (ex. S. Africa).

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  17. Jill

    I am dark skinned and have very curly black hair. People assume I am Spanish or Morocc etc. When I was born My butt and leg was a dark inky blue colour. It went when I was two. My family tree doesnt prove that I have any mixed race in me but my Great Gramas name was Manual. I still wonde why I look different and I find it fascinating.

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  18. Jill

    I am dark skinned and I have black cork screw curls, I look foreign but yet I have looked back at my family tree and there is nothing to prove this, apart from my Great Gramas name was Manual. When I was born I had a very dark coloured buttock and it went down my leg. It dissappeared when I was two years old.

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    • Sneaks

      When I was born, I had Mongolian spots in m my buttocks and back. They’ve faded. My son now has them in the same place and also on his shoulders. He also shares my fair complexion.
      My mother is Norwegian – Caucasian, and my father is both Black and Native American. So, I’m considered biracial. My husband is Black with Irish -causation and Native American ancestry.

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  19. Marsha

    Hi I’m 26 and I’ve got a dark spot around my breast I’ve been trying to find out what it is but I always meet a dead end I was wondering if it a Mongolian spot I’m so embarrass of it I always have to cover up ? help !!!!!

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  20. christel

    I’m 28 years old and fair skinned. I still have my mongolian spot on my lower back. I recently was told what my spot is. When i was a child people thought i was beat up but then they realized it was just a spot. I’m european and after that my parent said I was royalty as a joke. It used to make people zip it and leave alone. Now i’m proud of my unusual birthmark so… stay strong

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    • Alicia Moore

      I am of a Scottish/English grandparents on my moms side and Spanish/Aztec on my dads parents side. I too have the bluefish/reddish bruise like mark that is approximately 1×1 in or 25×30 cm or vise versa and I am very light medium skin with dark hair not black though. I am 57 and I have had this mark as long as I can remember. My mom died young and I don’t really know if I had it from birth. A health care professional told me that it is an indicator of the Aztec heritage my paternal grandmother. She was supposedly a princess of her Aztec family and she married my grandfather who was a very light skin Spaniard from Spain.

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  21. Zafar

    My son born just 2 days before. today see dark spot on his lower back and shoulder back. I consult with doctor he says that they are Mangolian spot. we are Asian (Pakistan). According to your comments about mangolian spot they are in color of flat gray of blue but on my son they are darker. plz give your comments and suggest any treatment or bold test for further clarification.
    Regards.

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  22. Danyal

    So my son’s Dr thinks he might have one. He’s sending us to Dallas TX children’s hospital to check it out. The only thing is his spot gets blisters on it and then scabs over. It gets really hard and red. We have to give him antibiotics to get it to go away — well, the scab and the hardness goes away, but the spot does not. This is the 3rd time he’s been on antibiotics for it. I’m concerned about my child’s leg.

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  23. Shenade

    Hi there I am a 21 year old female, my partner noticed 2 purple patches; one on my chin and the other one on my jawline. They were never there before; I am indigenous.. What does it mean.. I know that it is not in fact a mongolian bruise as mine were all down my back when I was born. Can you help me before I go to the doctor..

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  24. Marie

    I am a 43 year Hispanic female, I have had this blue’ish marking on the rightside of nostril towards the front. I have had people over the years tell me that I have blue ink on my nostril; have replied that no its just a blue birthmark.

    I have gone to dermotologist to see about having it remove, he/she would never seem inclined to assist in having it remove. Would like advise to how I can or what would be my approach to having this removed. It has obivously not faded like I have read that it should over the years.

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  25. Gabby

    I have a spot on the the temple of my head and it’s more bluish and hasnt gone away or faded in anyway but I only have one

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  26. Amu

    I’m Mongolian and I had bluish spots on my butt, lower back when I was an infant. My nieces and nephews all have Mongolian spots- some large and darkish blue and some small. There is nothing to worry about really, it’ll fade very soon. I believe most Asians and some Europeans have these spots, and I know for a fact that they’re not related to any skin diseases.

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  27. Marie G.

    I have a purple/bluish bruise like birth mark on my shoulder and I’m not sure what it is. I never had bluish marks on my bottom when I was a child just the birthmark on my shoulder. I’m a F 21 years old from a spanish/french background. Does anyone have an idea as to what it could be?

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  28. Jazz

    Dose this mean there skin will get darker then what it is my baby is mixed black white and has them on her shoulder hands feet butt and back

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  29. Uncomfortable teen

    I have a Mongolian spot on my butt. It’s so embarrassing and depressing. Is there any way I could have this removed?

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  30. Alexia

    Hi my name is Alexia I am 16 years old I have a Mongolia spot on my right side I was born with it. It got bigger and bigger by everyday it’s still getting bigger its covering my side.

    I was hospitalized for suicidal, depression, talking and hearing and seeing things. I was like this in 3rd grade all the way to now. It’s getting worse my doctor is putting me on stronger medicine.

    Kids bullying and beat me up. I am in special education I have a learning disability and speech problems. I have ADD I have trouble walking. I play the flute and piccolo, going about to learn the trumpet. I have really bad spelling and writing. Luckily iPod touch is fixing all my mess ups. Pleases don’t judge me I already have enough of that and it’s getting worse. High school is very hard.

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    • Antonio

      It is beautiful that you have an interest in music. Try to express your self with it, try to be strong and help others that are bullied and feel down, you know how they feel and what they need. Feel better by helping others, peace and happiness lies withing you.

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    • Rickey

      Mongolian and Cherokee are my bloodline, I had always wondered about the marks on me so I decided to look it up today shocked to see the common name given for it, my uncle would always joke about it to me for its unusual shapes. I’m replying to what you said, being bullied on as a child and hearing and seeing things, ADD hmm I probably had that no problem moving as a child, but was sick all the time well into Jr high , the things you write strike me as similar to myself . I have seen things and heard things out of the normal (or what is consider normal in general society ) from 5 years old to now, as I was growing up I would tell my family and they would tell me what they would hear and see ( came home from school heard my sister talking to our mother saying I seen something over there at this day or time I ran up the rest the stairs and said it look like this and it was doing this my little sister was in shock for she thought something was wrong with her till I said exactly what she had seen without her telling. I was like yeah I seen it lots of times and other things its no big deal she felt relief ) my mother and father told both the families have experience this way before my grandparents

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  31. carrie

    Two of my children were born with these spots, they are white, black and Native American. It’s so cool to see history come out through their skin.

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    • Tina

      I agree that it is such a cool thing! My daughter is of European, African, Chinese and Central American descent (Mayan.) Although she has only one Chinese great grandparent, she has many Asian features. And I think she is beautiful. She has a Mongolian spot on her right buttock.

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  32. Khuslen

    I am Mongolian and every Mongolian has had a blue butt in their life. Does that mean at birth we have a genetically determined surplus of those curtain skin cells?

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  33. Tanzi

    My 2 years old son and 2 months old daughter both has Mongolian Spot..is it true that this blue mark will mix with their skin color and make them darker later??

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  34. chilot

    My son has a dark blue spots on his buttocks, looks like bruises as I observed he got it when he was 1 month old. I’m from Asia and my husband is Norwegian and my son skin is kinda like a bit brown in color. He´s soon turning 8 months. Should I worry about it or it is just a plain birth mark? Anyone can give me some advice about it. Thanks.

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    • Munroe Bey

      It is a mark from the rich blood of our ancestors. Melanin is a rich dominate pigment/hue also a form of intelligence if nurtured. Mongolian Spot have no adverse effects. Bear the mark of your ancestors proudly and teach your child about their ancestors to whom which their awesome brown hue comes from. Take pictures in case the spots later fade. My daughter also bears the mark of her ancestors. #ProudMom

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  35. Nikki

    I am 25 very fair skinned and I have a Mongolian spot on my lower left shoulder blade. From reading all this, it may seems as though it is very very rare.

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  36. Afab

    Hi Dr. Greene,

    I am African with Italian and Portuguese blood based on my family roots. I was born with spots over my buttocks and they’re still there. They are lighter than my skin tone so they’re very noticeable. At 35 I’m still not comfortable wearing a bikini because of them. What’s the best treatment to finally get rid of them?

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  37. stephanie

    My son had a large mongolian spot on his lower back and butt. I thought it was a bruise also, until my doctor told me it was a mongolian spot. Then I remembered my grandfather and his family were turkish gypies, and thats where my son gets his dark complexion from. Because his father and I are very fair skinned.

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  38. Lisa

    When my oldest daughter was born in 1979, as soon as our peditrician finished his exam he came to me and said “Your daughter has 2 Mongolian spots on her bottom. They are nothing to be alarmed about most people of Native American descent have them. I will make a notation in her chart that they were there at birth and what they are because some peiople are ignorant to there existance and mistake them for abuse” I have Cherokee on both sides of my family and also Irish. My second daughter was born with fair skin and had no spots. Their Bio Dad was of French and Scandinavian heritage. I am glad I had a Pediatrician who was on top of things even all those years ago. The same daughter developed a strawberry mark on her tummy one night she was running a high temperature so I took her to the ER and the “doctor” there asked me why I burned her????? Oh her fever was due to an ear infection and the strawberry mark faded as she grew and eventually disappeared.

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  39. stace.

    my first born son had this present throughout his first year. I’m Mexican, his father was Mexican-Korean

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  40. kalene

    My son has these spot on his skout, butt, and back ..should i b concerned

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  41. JMoo241

    I am Asian and my husband is American. Our son was born with Mongolian spots on his butt. It’s not really a big deal to me. My husband was curious and I explained it to him. My step-daughter (11 year old) doesn’t know anything about her brother not until one day the social services pulled her out from her classroom and talked to her about “us” beating or abusing our 10 month old boy. That’s when I found out that the day care staff picked up the phone and called the Social services. After 2 days of investigation – the day care were very sorry (after my son’s pedia sent them a letter confirming about his MS) The Social Services said that it’s the first time in our county to have this kind of “case”. Oh really? How ignorant! The day care center didn’t chase us for the remaining 2 weeks payment. For what?

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  42. jamba dembe

    You know what people! Be proud to be born with that Mongolian spot. if
    it is only on butt, it is Mongolian spot, not anywhere else on your
    body. It is said that Native Americans and Present day Mongolians had
    similar ancestors. Almost 98 percent of Mongolian people’s has this spot
    when they are born. and disappears at age between 1 to 5. Also
    Mongolia is located in heart of central Asia. why i’m saying this is that
    at least make some research about it first and where it was from.
    Furthermore, as Dr.Greene said above, it is not that hereditary or some kind of disease. it is with your gene. So instead of asking doctors ask historians about it.

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    • Corey

      I have one on the side of my head, covered under my hair. I’m 25 now so I guess it’s here to stay. lol

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      • Amber

        I have one on the side of my head as well its been there a long time, and im almost 23 now.

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  43. Tsogoo B

    There’s nothing wrong with Mongolian blue spot. Every one here had this spot when they were infants. If your baby has it then . . . well, you guys are maybe related to us.

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  44. Jonesy

    You mean like white Black people? White Cambodians? White Apaches? I think both Greene’s were born with Mongolian spots, indicating non-European heritage. If you are a Greene, and if perhaps the Greene’s can’t be White, then maybe there is no White? Look inside yourself, Bluebutt. It’s interesting how each race was carefully listed (And With Capital Letters!), until you got to the one race whose lack of color is the defining characteristic of that race, and then even in your reply it still wasn’t clear whether there is a White race or not. Is there a White race? I can’t help but sense the trajectory of your science bending to the gravity of the political Left. Maybe Bluebutt should be the name for not-quite scientists like it can be used for those people, like yourself, who are not quite wholly of European ancestry. On the other hand, you can think of the spot free race as being congenitally and terminally Racially Incorrect.

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    • spotbutt

      OMG I was thinking the same thing!! Not to mention that is extremely politically incorrect because not only can people of most races be pale but “fair skinned” is objective anyway. That so dumb. Say it with me now, Greene: WHITE PEOPLE

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    • Cheryl K

      In 1982 my son was born with Mongolian blue spot on lower back and we were made aware of it straight away and he still has it and so do his children. All this info is very interesting. I think Jonesy needs to wake up. This is a forum for like minded people and not nut cases using any platform to bring up the race card whatever the colour or creed. Go somewhere else and do it.

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  45. Jonesy

    Can’t say “White” any more? Are we being eliminated as a race? Perhaps whiteness is the lack of a race? It’s like how BC– “Before Christ” is being replaced with BCE-before current era. It never ends does it? And its always anti-Caucasian. Always. And if you don’t do as the Left commands, they are going to make you regret it. You’re a whore, Greene.

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    • Thanks for your comment, however I believe you misunderstood. Dr. Greene was quoting directly for an academic journal “90% of Native Americans and people of African descent, over 80% of Asians, over 70% of Hispanics, and just under 10% of fair-skinned infants (Clinical Pediatric Dermatology, 1993).” If this case “fair-skinned infants” includes people from many different heritages.

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  46. Eve Allen

    What if they don’t disappear with age? I was told by two professionals I had a mongolian spot, because of my Native American ancestry. Another said it was a Chocolate Latte birthmark, but the pictures and size of mine do not match. Mine is much bigger with darker spots in it. What am I to think?

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    • Conserve Life

      I hope you find an answer, Eve! I’d suggest consulting a dermatologist.

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  47. Sara

    I have a very large Mongolian spot on my face and I am 20 years old. It has never gone away, and maybe i’m paranoid, but it seems as if it has gotten bigger recently. It’s very embarrasing because people always think it’s a bruise, and it’s very noticeable right beneth my eyebrow and very large. Maybe there will be a cure one of these days. :-(

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    • Silver Ts

      On your face? No, that’s not a Mongolian spot.

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      • Sara

        So what is it?

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        • Jenny

          Hi Sara I have the same birthmark as you, please let me know if you’ve found anything out about it

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        • Nicole

          Hi Sarah, just to let you know that you can get a Mongolian spot on your face, as a matter of fact I have one on my face too.

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  48. AS48

    Just came across this article while researching Mongolian spots. My 2-month-old grandson was recently taken away from his parents for a week and a half when his pediatrician noticed what looked like bruises on his lower back during a routine well-baby checkup. Even the doctor – along with 3 other doctors who checked him out – said that it was possible this was a birthmark, and not a bruise. He was taken away anyway. Fortunately, he was able to stay with a nearby relative during the investigation. After all was said and done, Child Protective Services had to apologize for the mistake and return the baby to his parents, saying the bruise diagnosis was incorrect, and what he actually has are Mongolian Spots. I’ve advised my daughter-in-law to get a letter (with photos of the spots) from her pediatrician confirming this fact, and make copies of it to keep with her at all times – in her purse, diaper bag and on record with anyone who cares for the baby – such as daycare or school. This was a nightmarish situation that was completely avoidable, if only the doctor had realized what the spots were in the first place.

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    • MeowgiMan

      I’m 15 right now and I was taken away for about a week from my parents for this. Don’t have the birth mark anymore, and I am caucajsian so I guess it was pretty uncommon to find.

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    • lisa

      I was born with Mongolian spots and so were my two sons. When my first son was born he had them on his shoulder, his butt and the very middle of his back. When I bought him back for a check-up this middle aged nurse looked at me like I was a monster then told the doctor in my presence that my son had multiple bruises.

      My mother told me what they were so I was never in the dark about it, but I was Soooo thankful that the doctor knew as well. He explain to the nurse that my son was not screaming from pain when he was touched on those spots. He also said that people who had ancestry from Asia, Mediterranean, North Africa and Native Americans often are born with spots that look like bruises. I have three out of the four in my bloodline.

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