The boy, identified as Giovannino, was diagnosed with harlequin ichthyosis, a rare genetic skin disorder in which babies are born with thick skin that cracks and splits apart.
The skin deformities can distort facial features and restrict breathing and eating, and require intensive care, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). The disorder is present immediately at birth, with the tightness of the skin typically pulling around the eyes and mouth, forcing the eyelids and lips to turn inside out. The disorder may also cause hands and feet to be swollen and partially flexed, and ears to be fused to the head with thick skin.
Infants born with harlequin ichthyosis are at an increased risk for low body temperature, dehydration and elevated levels of sodium in the blood. They may also require tube feeding, and lubrication in the eyes to reduce the tightness of the eyelids. It is estimated to affect one in 500,000 persons in the U.S., and symptoms require treatment throughout a patient’s lifetime.
For Giovanninio, nurses at Sant’Anna hospital have been coordinating his care and say he is a happy child who loves music, the BBC reported.
“He is a cute child who smiles and loves being taken around the ward,” Daniele Farina, head of the hospital’s NICU, told La Repubblica, according to the BBC. “He is happy when someone makes him listen to music.”
The hospital has reportedly been inundated with offers to adopt Giovannino, and authorities are allegedly aware of the situation and looking for the parents.