You've likely seen them before, but you don't know what the red birthmarks are called. Around ten percent of the nation's kids are born with hemangiomas. Now there's a new treatment for the common, non-cancerous tumors.
Unlike many children, one-year-old Griffin Joachim is pretty relaxed in the doctor's office.
"He's laid back at times, but then he's really curious and he'll want to get into everything," Griffin's Mother Kjersten Joachim said.
The Sioux Falls boy first started seeing Sanford Health Dr. Patrick Munson at two months old. Griffin's mother noticed the birthmark on his face started growing.
"I first noticed it when he was about two weeks old. I had no idea what it was. I thought it was some kind of rash," Kjersten said.
Dr. Munson diagnosed Griffin with a hemangioma, a non-cancerous tumor that often appears on the face. Munson usually just recommends that parents observe the tumor to make sure it doesn't grow. Sometimes, like in Griffin's case, treatment is needed.
"Ones close to the eye can affect vision and visual development. They can also ulcerate where they can get bleeding and scar tissue that forms," Munson said.
Munson decided to try a new drug on Griffin. It's called propranolol. It's an oral medication that's typically used to treat high blood pressure. It's also been found to shrink the size of these tumors.
Before this new medication, doctors basically used surgery and steroids to treat hemangiomas.
"When you stopped the steroids, the hemangiomas often grow back, so you either have to continue them long-term, which is an option, but it's not a good option because steroids have significant complications when they're used long-term," Munson said.
After nine months on the medication, Griffin's tumor has shrunk dramatically.
"It's hard to know what to do, but this is not a very invasive thing to do," Kjersten said.
"If that had been left alone, I might have had to do some type of surgical removal of the tumor because it would have been to big to do any other treatment," Munson said.
Studies show there are two possible side effects of propranolol: sleepiness and trouble controlling blood sugar levels. Griffin did not deal with either of those side effects.