Interventions for infantile haemangiomas (strawberry birthmarks) of the skin

  • Leonardi-Bee J
  • Batta K
  • O'Brien C
  • et al.
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BACKGROUND Infantile haemangiomas (also known as strawberry birthmarks) are soft, raised swellings of the skin which are usually uncomplicated and tend to regress spontaneously over time. Some haemangiomas occur in high-risk areas or can develop complications; therefore, intervention may be necessary. Various interventions have been proposed, but it is unclear whether any of these interventions are effective. OBJECTIVES To assess the effects of interventions for infantile haemangiomas. SEARCH STRATEGY We searched the following databases up to March 2011: the Cochrane Skin Group Specialised Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Clinical Trials) in The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, AMED (Allied and Complementary Medicine), LILACS (Latin American and Caribbean Health Science Information database), CINAHL, and reference lists of articles. We also searched online trials registries for ongoing trials and grey literature. SELECTION CRITERIA We included children with haemangiomas. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS Two authors independently screened titles, abstracts, and the full text of publications; extracted data; and assessed risk of bias. MAIN RESULTS We included 4 studies with a total of 271 participants.One randomised controlled trial (RCT) compared pulsed dye laser (PDL) therapy versus the 'wait and see' approach. At one year PDL was significantly more likely to result in complete clearance. The risk ratio (RR) was 6.10 (95% CI [confidence interval] 1.89 to 19.64); however, there was no difference when clearance was defined as 'complete or minimal residual signs'. Redness was significantly less pronounced in the PDL group, but no differences were seen for height or surface area. Significant increases in atrophy and skin hypopigmentation were seen in the PDL group.One very old RCT assessed radiation versus mock-radiation; there was no significant difference in clearance at six years (RR 1.08, 95% CI 0.63 to 1.87) between the groups, irrespective of the size of the haemangioma and the skin colour.In one small RCT there was a significantly greater reduction in size of the haemangioma with oral prednisolone compared to intravenous methylprednisolone at three months (mean difference [MD] was 58 mm [95% CI 29.24 to 86.76]), and one year. Similar adverse events occurred in both groups.In another small RCT there was a significant reduction in the surface area of the haemangioma with bleomycin compared to the control (RR 21, 95% CI 1.34 to 328.86). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS This review has found limited evidence from individual RCTs to support some of the existing interventions (corticosteroid and PDL) for infantile haemangiomas. There is a need for further high-quality RCTs to validate the findings from these studies, and RCTs to assess the effect of other treatments, in particular relating to propranolol.




Leonardi-Bee, J., Batta, K., O’Brien, C., & Bath-Hextall, F. J. (2011). Interventions for infantile haemangiomas (strawberry birthmarks) of the skin. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

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