Linea negra

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Linea negra
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Linea negra dark midline streak

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Linea negra (Latin for "black line") also known as Linea nigra is a dark vertical line that appears on the abdomen during pregnancy.

Pathophysiology

It is a type of hyperpigmentation resulting from increased production of the pigment melanin thought to be caused by increased estrogen, the same process that causes the areolas to darken.[1] Why this process of hyperpigmentation occurs on the midline of the abdomen is uncertain. Fair-skinned women show this symptom less often than women with darker pigmentation. Before it appears it may be more faintly visible as a linea alba ("white line").

Epidemiology and demographics

Linea nigra tends to appear around the second trimester. Some research suggests there may be a link between linea nigra and insulin.

Diagnosis

Signs and symptoms

The brownish streak is usually about a centimeter in width. The line runs vertically along the midline of the abdomen from the pubis to the xiphoid process — the bottom-most part of the rib cage in the center or tip of the sternum.

Treatment

No treatment is required. Supplementing the diet with folic acid is said to reduce the discoloration. After birth, the line fades slowly, but may never disappear entirely, and sun exposure may cause it to recur.[1]

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