New treatment for newborn condition

Haifa's Rambam Hospital has announced that it has begun using a new treatment for hemangiomas, benign reddish lumps that affect up to 10 percent of newborn babies, reports Two children at the hospital have already received the new treatment, and doctors say its main advantage is that it can be given at a much earlier stage than traditional treatments, and thus prevents possible complications from a hemangioma. According to the report, about one in 10 babies is born with a hemangioma, in 80 percent of cases on the head or neck. The lumps consist of clusters of blood vessels and skin cells, and usually disappear naturally by the time the child is a year or so of age, but occasionally a lump that continues to grow close to the nose or an eye can block breathing passages or harm vision, and can prove to be a serious problem. Because hemangiomas consist of large numbers of blood vessels, surgery cannot be done to remove them, and the traditional treatment has been to give the child steroids to shrink the lump. But several months ago researchers discovered that the heart drug propanolol, used to treat hypertension and irregular hear beats, effectively reduced the lumps within three months with few or no side effects. Rambam Hospital set up an inter-departmental team of doctors, including pediatricians, cardiologists and plastic surgeons, to examine the treatment. A hospital spokesman said two youngsters had already been treated successfully with the medication. He said they had been monitored at every stage. "The advantage of the new treatment is the fact that we can start to treat the problem at a very early age … and prevent complications at the very beginning of the development of the hemangioma," the spokesman said.