If I marry a person with vitiligo will our children have vitiligo?
Over the past 14 years I have received many emails and phone calls, from both men and women, desperate to know the potentiality of their children developing vitiligo. It’s understandable, right? Those of us who have vitiligo would rather that our children didn’t experience what it’s like to go through the dramatic changes that accompany vitiligo: skin depigmentation, self-esteem conflicts, questions from the public, and sometimes, discrimination.
Those are all real issues that someone with vitiligo can face, but the reason most people are asking me this question is because they are worried about the likelihood that they will marry. Why? Because in some cultures, people with vitiligo are sometimes shunned by their families, and arranged marriages are canceled because the future spouse, and/or their family, does not want the potential of future children to have vitiligo.
I feel it’s important to spread the word to everyone who is concerned about this so, here are my findings:
Research has shown that when one parent has vitiligo, their children will develop vitiligo only 5% to 7% of the time. Or, to put a positive spin on it, there is a 93- 95% chance that a child born to someone with vitiligo will NOT develop vitiligo.
No one in my immediate family has vitiligo and none of my children have it either.
Here is another cool statistic: Even with identical twins who share all the same genes, only 23% of the time do both twins develop vitiligo. Since the development of vitiligo is associated with both genetic AND environmental factors, one twin can be exposed to a life-event causing great physical/emotional stress, or other factor, and subsequently develop vitiligo, while the other twin, who does not share the same environmental exposures and life-events, could develop vitiligo at a different time or not at all.
If you would like to take a look at some in-depth statistics about vitiligo you can follow this link for a pdf download.