Scalp Hair Characteristics in the Newborn Infant

Susan A. Furdon, RNC, MS, NNP; David A. Clark, MD


Adv Neonatal Care. 2003;3(6) 

In This Article

Hair Growth and Loss

During late fetal and early neonatal life, synchronized cycles of hair growth and loss occur simultaneously. Anagen, or growing hair follicles, cover the entire scalp by about 18 to 20 weeks gestation. At 24 to 28 weeks gestation, the anagen hair follicles evolve to a short catagen phase in which the follicles involute.[6] Telogen hair follicles are those in the final resting phase before the hair is shed as club hair (Fig 2).

Phases of the hair cycle. Anagen is the growing phase. Catagen is a short interphase prior to the resting phase, telogen. Hair is shed in the telogen phase as club hair. Reprinted with permission.[9]

In general, hair growth occurs from the forehead to the nape of the neck. At birth, there are 2 waves of scalp hair growth. The earliest wave of growth is the hair over the frontal and parietal regions of the scalp. This hair is already converting to telogen hair and will be shed first. The more recent wave is the anagen hair in the occipital region. This hair enters the telogen phase and is likely to fall out between 8 to 12 weeks after birth.[9]

The density of hair follicles is highest at birth because of the cyclic stages of hair growth. Hair density, structure, and growth are correlated with sex, race, and nutritional status.[7] Infants with darker complexions have a slower rate of transition to the telogen phase, so they tend to have more abundant hair at birth.[10]


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