Genetics is truly a remarkable thing.
If it is a case of an interracial couple, the common expectation is that the dominant genes will be the ones that take over. When two people of the same race are parents, however, we all expect that their child will also have the same appearance as they do. That’s why this couple from Nigeria who gave birth to a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed baby in 2010 calls their child their “miracle baby”. Their little girl has defied everything that people assume about human genetics.
The Black Parents Who Gave Birth To A White Baby
Back in 2010, Angela and Ben Ihegboro, a pair from Nigeria living in London, England, were expecting the birth of their third child. The excitement was special because this was going to be their first baby girl, after having two sons. The delivery day finally came and all things went smoothly. However, when the two of them first saw their baby girl, they were very surprised and stunned. The girl had blond hair, blue eyes, and completely white skin.
“She is beautiful, a miracle baby,” Angela said of their baby girl, who they named Nmachi.
Ben, the father, was kidding that this girl might not be his. He was quick to clarify that he was actually joking. Basically, he said even if his wife had been unfaithful to him with a white man, the chances of the baby being born white, blond-haired, and blue-eyed are still rather slim. Certainly, the parents, the doctors, and also many interested scientists were curious to find out how this could have happened.
One of the first things that came to mind is that perhaps she is an albino child. But the doctors at the hospital where Nmachi was born denied that. Yet, reports afterward stated that they hadn’t ruled it out completely. After all, it is one of the most common recessive gene disorders in Nigeria and comes in many forms.
Another theory was that perhaps the parents had mixed-race ancestry. Or more simply explained, somewhere in either of their family lineages, there is a white person. These would be dormant white genes that for whatever reason hadn’t surfaced in either of their families until this moment. Yet, this is not the case in either of Ben or Angela’s family trees, so this is not the cause of the “miracle”.
The third theory is that the girl’s skin color is because of a genetic mutation unique to her. If this is true, she will probably also pass this genetic trait on to her future children. This means that there could likely be more white babies in the Ihegboro family’s future, no matter who Nmachi has the children with.
Time Will Tell
It is difficult for doctors to specify exactly which of the three theories is the right one. With no known dormant white genes on either side of the family, this is the least likely suspect. That being said, doctors were going back and forth between albinism and the unique genetic mutation.
Professor Ian Jackson of the Human Genetics Unit at the Medical Research Council explained how it could be Albinism, despite the little girl not having all the associated traits nor family history of the disorder. He said that both of the parents might have been carrying a copy of the albino gene that has not shown in either family for long, long years. He also specified that there are different types of Albinism. In type two, for instance, you see creamy skin and yellow or light brown hair. In some cases, the skin will darken with age. Considering the prevalence of Albinism in Nigeria, this is undoubtedly a possibility.
“She doesn’t look like an albino child anyway. Not like the ones I have seen back in Nigeria or in books. She just looks like a healthy white baby,” said Ben, the father. “My mum is a black Nigerian although she has a bit fairer skin than mine. But we don’t know of any white ancestry.”
We might not find out exactly how or why baby Nmachi was born white. Be that as it may, she is obviously very loved by her family.