AskDefine | Define lanugo

Dictionary Definition

lanugo n : the fine downy hair covering a human fetus; normally shed during the ninth month of gestation

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

Latin, from lana ‘wool’.

Pronunciation

IPA: /lə'nju:gəʊ/

Noun

lanugo
  1. soft down or fine hair, specifically as covering the human foetus
    • 1955: early spring mountains with young-elephant lanugo along their spines — Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Esperanto

Noun

lanugo (accusative lanugon)
  1. down
  2. fluff, lanugo

Extensive Definition

For the wasp genus, see Lanugo (wasp)
Lanugo is hair that grows on the body in an attempt to insulate the skin because of lack of fat. It is a type of pelage. Lanugo is very fine, and may grow densely on the body in places where significant amounts of hair does not normally grow. It occurs on fetuses as a normal part of gestation, but is usually shed and replaced by vellus hair at about 40 weeks of gestational age.
As the lanugo is shed from the skin, it is normal for the developing fetus to consume the hair with the fluid, since it drinks from the amniotic fluid and urinates it back into its environment. Subsequently, the lanugo contributes to the newborn baby's meconium. The presence of lanugo in newborns is a sign of premature birth.
Lanugo is also common on other animals. For example, seals and elephants are often born with a covering of lanugo.
Lanugo is also a common symptom of serious anorexia nervosa, as the body attempts to insulate itself when body fat is lost.

References

lanugo in Spanish: Lanugo
lanugo in French: Lanugo
lanugo in Dutch: Lanugo
lanugo in Polish: Lanugo
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