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10 THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT MONGOLIA

A few years ago, a young Japanese couple traveled with their infant to the United States. Then during their stay, they were unexpectedly approached by social services and detained as their child was taken away from them. As they did not speak much English, they got their embassy involved. As it turned out, some people had seen the infant’s blue spot and assumed the child was a victim of child abuse. While the nightmare of this particular couple was easily resolved and parents soon reunited with their child.


The issue of the blue spot remains a phenomenon largely unknown outside of Eurasia and East Asia. It is called “Mongolian spot-MS” given by Edwin Baelz in 1901 referred to what he termed the “Mongoloid race”, in other words Asians.


It has bluish-gray, flat skin markings that appear at birth or shortly thereafter during the infantile age in different sizes, located on the lower back and buttocks and at the base of the spine. They can also appear on the shoulders, upper back, arms, wrists, legs, ankles, lateral abdomen and elsewhere. Palms, soles, face and head are usually spared.


Contrary to what is widely believed in Mongolia, it appears to be also quite common in other countries. The prevalence of Mongolian spots varies among different ethnic groups according to the overall depth of pigmentation. It has been reported for example Asian: 95-100%, East African: 90-95%, Native American: 85-90%, Hispanic: 50-70%, Caucasian: 1-10%.