By Charlotte Nisbet
The parents of a nine-year-old born with a strawberry birthmark say that BLOOD PRESSURE tablets caused the grapefruit-sized mass to disappear.
Jean Lambert, 38, and her husband, Michael, 39, first thought their daughter, Chloe, had a bruise on the right side of her forehead when she was born eight weeks premature.
But after being diagnosed with a hemangioma – known as a strawberry birthmark – Chloe’s parents watched in disbelief as it rapidly grew, and by the time she was six-months-old, it was the size of a grapefruit.
Thankfully Chloe was put forward for pioneering treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital after a specialist spotted her birthmark during a routine check-up.
The birthmark was treated with propranolol – which is traditionally used to treat high blood pressure – as it can reduce the amount of blood flowing through it.
It caused it to gradually shrink and by 2014, Chloe, then five, was ready for her first of three plastic surgeries to remove the birthmark.
Chloe, now nine, has a faint scar running down her forehead and her parents are sharing her story in a bid to raise awareness.
Jean, from Milton Keynes, Bucks, said: “We were so happy with the results from the blood pressure tablets as it reduced her birthmark significantly.
“Chloe’s birthmark was huge by the time she was six-months-old and we’d often be stared at in the street by strangers.
“We knew we couldn’t wait until she was old enough for it to disappear on its own.
“The medication caused the mass to reduce in size and by the time she was five years old, she was eligible for her first surgery to remove the birthmark was classed as inactive.
“We’re so relieved it’s all over now as there’s no chance it’ll regrow.
“Chloe just has a small scar on her forehead where the birthmark used to be and she can choose to have laser treatment in the future.
Jean is sharing Chloe’s story in a bid to reduce the stigma attached to strawberry birthmarks and to ensure other parents are aware of the options available to them.
She added: “The stigma is horrendous, I would have complete strangers saying ‘it’s such a shame, she would be such a pretty baby without that,’ while staring at her in her pram.
“To me she was perfect but to everyone else she was ‘broken.’
“Chloe’s birthmark grew so fast that in just a few months it was covering half of her head.”
Chloe was thankfully spotted by a specialist in hospital who referred her for a trial at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Jean added: “Thanks to them, Chloe no longer has her birthmark and it didn’t grow any larger.
“It was already causing her right eye to droop down and would no doubt have been more damaging to have left it until now.
“Even though our journey with Chloe’s birthmark is over, I do still offer support online for others who are in the same position we’ve been in.
“I think it’s important that people know about the options, we were very lucky to have been put forward to take the blood pressure medication but not everyone is.
“I often use Birthmark Support UK on Facebook which is a great way to connect with those in the same position.”