Vernix Caseosa What is it?
Vernix caseosa is that white, creamy film that is covering the new born as the exit the vaginal canal and enter this world. Vernix caseosa may also be called “Nature’s Cold Cream”.
What is it made of?
Vernix caseosa is made up of water (81%), lipids (9%), and proteins (10%), or more specifically, cholesterol esters, wax esters, ceramides from stratum corneum and sebaceous origin squalene, cholesterol, triglycerides, free fatty acids, phospholipids, and cellular elements (NCBI).
What does it do? And, Why is it important?
Vernix caseosa basically facilitates the move for the newborn as they transition from an intra-uterine to an extra-uterine environment. The biofilm forms during the last trimester. Studies have revealed that the substance aids in maturation of thermoregulation of the infant through osmoregulation. The vernix also works innately with the amniotic fluid and breast milk to facilitate the growth of good bacteria.
Postnatally, vernix is simultaneously a cleanser, a moisturizer, an anti- infective, and an anti-oxidant. Vernix facilitates acid mantle development and supports normal bacterial colonization. Its hydrated cellular struc- ture and unusual lipid composition provide a ‘best’ solution for the needs of the foetus and newborn, not least of which is the attraction of caregivers (Hoath, Pickens, and Visscher).
Babies that are born full term have a moderate amount of this creamy substance on their bodies. Babies born incredibly premature have not yet developed this substance. Either way, think about postponing the bath that the hospital wants to give you baby the same day of birth.
As I’ve said before, our bodies know what to do. Everything our bodies do is for an evolutionary purpose. This creamy, white, unattractive substance that covers our newborns is nature’s way of protecting them as they leave one environment and enter another environment that is extremely different.