We’re not going to beat around the bush here: it has come to our attention that babies occasionally quaff their own body hair in the womb.
The interesting titbit was shared by The Vagina Museum, which recently tweeted that some of its followers were “surprised” by a detail it had shared that foetuses eat their own body hair.
To be honest, we can see why they would’ve been surprised.
“We are delighted to tell you that this is completely true. The hair is called lanugo, and usually appears at 16 weeks of gestation, and is shed by around 7-8 months in,” read the tweet.
Is this true? Well, according to multiple sources, yes it is. And that means, most of us have done it. (After all, we were all babies once!)
So, why does this happen?
Lanugo is a fine hair that covers a baby’s entire body – except for places without hair follicles, such as the palms, lips and soles of the feet.
Baby’s will typically shed this hair before birth (around 32 to 36 weeks, according to the Cleveland Clinic), where it will then float around in the amniotic fluid which your baby is suspended in.
Those hairs will then inevitably end up being swallowed by the baby, as a tasty and ever-so-furry snack.
When your baby does its first poo – a dark sticky substance known as meconium – the lanugo and any other cells and bodily bits they have swallowed during their time in the womb will evacuate the body, too.
Some babies – for example, premature babies – end up being born with lanugo, and when this happens, the hairs tend to just disappear over time, without the baby consuming it.
“Lanugo performs an important role during foetal development. It holds vernix caseosa (sometimes called “birthing custard”) on to the skin,” says the Vagina Museum.
The hairs and vernix caseosa cover the body of the foetus. It is thought the main reasons for this are to keep the baby warm and to protect the skin from any damaging substances in the amniotic fluid.
Well, now you know.