Genetic Mystery: Black Brits Birth White, Blue-Eyed Baby
2010 07 22

By Theunis Bates | AOLNews.com

Britain’s tabloid press has gone gaga over a baby girl with white skin, blue eyes and a mop of blond curls who was born to black parents.

The best-selling Daily Mail and The Sun newspapers have labeled the child’s Caucasian complexion a mystery, saying genetics experts are "flummoxed" by the case. But is the birth of a white baby to a dark-skinned couple really as baffling as the papers claim?

Ben and Angela Ihegboro were certainly confused when nurses at Queen Mary Hospital in Sidcup, 10 miles southeast of London, last week presented them with their daughter Nmachi -- whose name means "beauty of God" in the Nigerian couple’s homeland.

Father Ben told The Sun that when he first saw the porcelain-skinned infant he jokingly cried out, "What the flip? Is she mine?" But he never doubted whether he was Nmachi’s real dad. "Of course she is mine. My wife is true to me," he said. "Even if she hadn’t been, the baby wouldn’t have looked like that!"

Albinism would have been the most obvious explanation for Nmachi’s pale looks. But, according to a hospital spokesperson, the obstetrician who delivered Nmachi told the family that doctors suspected the newborn wasn’t an albino because she didn’t have the pink eyes and white hair traditionally associated with the condition.

Black Parents / White Baby


Video from: YouTube.com



That initial hunch has led many to ponder why Nmachi was born white. Some experts have suggested that Ben and Angela might both be carrying light-skin gene variants, passed down from long-dead white ancestors. When Nmachi was conceived, she would have inherited both sets of pale-skin genes, giving her a white complexion.

"We are all of us genetic mixtures to some extent, and occasionally you’ll have a convergence of the pale versions of these genes in African-Americans and African-Caribbeans who have a mixed black and white ancestry," Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at the University of Oxford, told the BBC.

However, both Ben and Angela, who moved to the U.K. five years ago, deny having white ancestors.

"My mum is a black Nigerian, although she has a bit fairer skin than mine," said Ben, who has two other black children with Angela: son Chisom, 4, and daughter Dumebi, 2. "But we don’t know of any white ancestry."

And while this sort of interracial mixing may have been common in long-established multiethnic communities like those found in the Caribbean, it’s unlikely to have occurred in a historically black country like Nigeria.

Those factors have led Sykes to argue that the little girl’s pale skin is caused by an unusual genetic mutation, which she could eventually pass on to her own children. But other experts believe there’s a much simpler explanation: Nmachi is an albino, and the first doctor who said she wasn’t had it wrong. The Queen Mary Hospital spokesperson says this is a possibility, noting that that doctor is an expert in obstetrics, not genetic disorders.

The confusion over Nmachi’s condition is likely because many people believe all albinos exhibit similar symptoms.

Professor Ian Jackson, an expert in melanocytes -- cells that produce pigment -- at the British Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Unit, points out that there are four types of albinism, all of which allow different levels of coloring to develop in the skin, hair and eyes. "In type 2 cases, which it looks like this girl has, we see creamy skin and yellow or light brown hair, which sometimes darkens with age," he told AOL News.

Jackson adds that the parents’ Nigerian ancestry makes albinism an even more likely culprit. "Albinism is more common in West Africa than the rest of the world," he said.

The condition also could have lain dormant for many years, explaining why the Ihegboros don’t remember any pale-skinned ancestors. "It’s a recessive trait -- which means that carriers don’t show any signs of albinism -- so you can go many generations and not see any physical evidence of albinism in a family," Jackson explained. "It’s only when two carriers have children together that you see it, when it will likely appear in a quarter of their children."

The Ihegboros, though, don’t really care why their new daughter looks so different from their other children. "She’s beautiful and I love her," mother Angela said. "Her color doesn’t matter. She’s a miracle baby."



Article from: aolnews.com



Related Articles
Black Woman, White Skin
Walgreen to hold off selling genetic test kits
Genetic Testing Kit to Hit Drugstore Shelves
Newborn Genetic Screening: The New Eugenics?
The First Genetically Modified Human Embryo: Advance or Abomination?


Latest News from our Front Page

Norway Joins the Race to Develop Killer Robots
2014 10 24
Norway is a large exporter of weapons, which makes the resolution of the debate about creating killer robots an important issue for everyone.  One could debate the overall merits or failings of robotic systems, but an area that clearly has become a point for concern on all sides is the emergence of "killer robots." According to robotics pioneer, David Hanson, ...
Gene That Once Aided Survival in the Arctic Found to Have Negative Impact on Health Today
2014 10 23
In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a gene variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today’s northern populations. {snip} “Our work ...
The Ebola hoax: questions, answers, and the false belief in the “One It”
2014 10 23
“The Reality Manufacturing Company doesn’t just sell ‘fake paintings’ that are easy to spot. No. They also sell images that are geared to mesh with people’s deeply held instincts and thereby produce rigid false beliefs. People are sure that if they gave up such beliefs, their world would fall apart and blow away in the wind.” ...
New Controversial Theory Suggests "Hobbits" Were Not Human - Who Were These Mysterious Beings?
2014 10 23
The origin of the Hobbit species remains a challenging subject to scientists. The Hobbit’s discovery confirmed the view that the Earth was once populated by many species of human, but new research the Hobbit’s were not human at all! So, who were these mysterious beings? Where did they come from? The idea that our species, Homo sapiens, was the only species of human on ...
Right into enemy hands? ISIS shows off new weapons allegedly airdropped by US (VIDEO)
2014 10 23
Islamic State has published a new video in which a jihadist shows off brand-new American hardware, which was purportedly intended for the Kurds they are fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The undated video, posted by the unofficial IS mouthpiece “a3maq news”, sees a jihadist showing several boxes of munitions with English-language markings, with a parachute spread out on ...
More News »