Caring for a baby’s skin is an important part of being a parent. Your newborn baby may have some skin conditions that seem unusual, and you or your parent’s medical history might be responsible for those skin conditions.

Knowing the family’s medical history is an important step toward safeguarding the health of a child. It also gives an opportunity to talk to the doctor about steps you can take to protect your child from developing such disease in the future.

Atopic diseases are a group of diseases linked by a shared underlying problem with the immune system. It includes atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, asthma, and food allergy. A family history of atopic diseases is a risk factor for children who develop these conditions.

Atopic march refers to the common problem that children who have one of the atopic diseases are at significant risk for developing another at some point during childhood. E.g. about 75% of children with atopic dermatitis will develop allergic rhinitis and more than 50% will develop asthma.

Skin diseases like atopic eczema (a skin condition causing itching, redness, and scaling), contact dermatitis (red, itchy rash due to contact of the substance), vitiligo (loss of skin colour in blotches), and skin cancer are associated with family’s medical history. The risk of childhood eczema is two to three times higher in children with a maternal or paternal history, irrespective of parent’s sex or body region affected.

We can prevent the development of atopic diseases in offspring by avoiding exposure to the allergen during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This can be done by restricting the diet during pregnancy, omitting potentially allergenic foods while breastfeeding, and treating the homes with an acaricide to eliminate house dust mite allergen. However, doing this does not necessarily give complete protection, but will reduce the chances of developing such diseases in children.