Blood pressure drug used for dangerous birthmarks

May 26, 2010 3:25:46 PM PDT
Hemangiomas are one of the most common birthmarks in babies, affecting up to 10-percent. . Sometimes the marks aren't just a cosmetic problem. .

One baby's hemangioma was suffocating her, until doctors saved her life by using an old drug in a new way.

L;uree was rushed to the E-R for problems breathing and eating. .

Shortly after birth, a hemangioma or vascular birthmark started growing on her face and neck. .

Dr. Dale Tylor from Vanderbilt University Medical Center says, "a hemangioma is what's considered a tumor. It's not cancer." .

Most hemangiomas go away, but scans revealed Luree's was more serious. .

The hemangioma had grown around Luree's trachea and aorta.

Forty-percent of her airway was blocked. .

Paul and Melodie Kirkpatrick were told a tracheotomy might be her only option until Dr. Dale Tylor suggested trying the blood pressure medication propranolol.

Dr. Tylor says, "within 24 hours she was a new child, and within 2 days, she never had breathing problems ever again, and there were visible changes on the external portion of her hemangioma." .

Propranolol has been used for fifty years to treat high blood pressure. .

Dr. Tylor says the risks of a baby taking it are small, but include low blood pressure and low blood sugar. .

For the Kirkpatricks, the drug has been life changing.