Haemangiomas are considered to be the most common tumours of infancy. However, despite their frequent occurrence the aetiological determinants of their development remain unknown. Identifying these factors may provide insight on their pathogenesis. We performed cross-sectional screening for haemangiomas in newborns (0–16 months of age) in the general Dutch population. Haemangioma-specific and pregnancy-related data were collected in children with a haemangioma. These data were compared in a case–control design using multivariable logistic regression analysis. Among 2204 newborns, 219 (9.9%) had a haemangioma. The male-to-female ratio was 1:2. The majority of haemangiomas were located on the trunk (37%). The general practitioners or medical specialists were consulted in only a minority of cases (<7%). Amniocentesis [odds ratio (OR) 3.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.11, 11.42], breech presentation [OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.14, 4.44], being first-born [OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.03, 2.33] and a birthweight ≤2500 g [OR 4.95, 95% CI 1.63, 15.05] were independent factors associated with the development of a haemangioma. Duration of pregnancy did not differ between study groups. Our study showed that the prevalence of a haemangioma is 9.9% in the general (Dutch) population. Four factors appear relevant in the development of haemangiomas. These factors may provide clues to its pathogenesis.