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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Morphea


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Your Question

Can a mother pass morphea on to her child if it is active during the pregnancy?

Our Answer

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What is morphea?

Morphea (mor-FEE-ah) comes from a Greek word that means “form” or “structure.” The word refers to local patches of scleroderma. The first signs of the disease are reddish patches of skin that thicken into firm, oval-shaped areas. The center of each patch becomes ivory colored with violet borders. These patches sweat very little and have little hair growth. Patches appear most often on the chest, stomach, and back. Sometimes they appear on the face, arms, and legs.[1] In most cases, morphea improves spontaneously over time (typically 3 to 5 years); however, patients are often left with patches of darkened or discolored skin and, in rare cases, muscle damage.[1][2] The cause of this condition is unknown.[3] Morphea can be either localized or generalized.[1]
Last updated: 1/28/2010

What causes morphea?

The exact cause of morphea is unknown.[4][5] It is not infectious. It is not hereditary, though, similar problems may present in other family members.[4] It's believed that a reaction of the immune system plays a role in the development of this rare condition.[4][5] Experts have explored a possible connection between morphea and infection, such as measles or chickenpox, but recent research doesn't support this theory. Other factors that may be associated with the onset of morphea include radiation therapy or repeated trauma to the affected area.[4] 

Last updated: 1/28/2010

Can a mother pass morphea on to her child if it is active during the pregnancy?

Although scientists don't know exactly what causes morphea, they are certain that people cannot catch it from or transmit it to others. In addition, although genes seem to put certain people at risk for morphea (and other forms of scleroderma) and play a role in its course, the disease is not passed from parent to child like some genetic diseases.[1]
Last updated: 1/28/2010

References
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.