Breaking News

Nigerian couple’s white baby for genetic tests

By Sola Ogundipe with Agency Reports
The white baby girl Nimanchi, born to black parents is to undergo full genetic tests as her parents,  Ben and Angela Ihegboro are seeking to discover whether they have any white ancestry.

The couple who are devout Christians believe there are no whites on either side of their families that could have led to four_day_old Nmachi’s skin colour.

Ben and Angela agreed to let experts study Nmachi as geneticist Dr Mark Thomas, of University College, London, said the odds of the baby’s white colouring were “between many millions to one and a million to one”.

He said: “I suspect there’s been a mixture of a mutation, like albinism, combined with a dormant white gene.”

But other experts hintthat there are three possible explanations for the birth of Nmachi _ albinism, a genetic mutation or some dominant white genes that entered her parents’ backgrounds some generations ago.

Doctors have already said that they do not believe Nmachi is an albino, but it is possible that both of her parents carried light skin genes and they mutated in the correct way to produce a light skinned baby. However, her parents say they do not have any white ancestry in their backgrounds.

A genetic scientist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and College of Medicine, University of Lagos (CMUL), Idi Araba, said the rare occurrence is most likely to be a genetic mutation, which could cause more genetic mutations down the line.

The bottom line from most medical experts is that more research will have to be done to find out if Nmachi has even a form of albinism that could be described as a genetic mutation, but for now she is healthy and happy and that is all her parents are concerned about.

But there are curiosities. Ben’s mother Amebo, 70, is unusual in having blue eyes.

The 44-year-old customer services adviser, said: “It doesn’t matter to us quite how she came about but we will do what we can to find answers. She’s a beautiful, miracle baby and we love her. She could be green and yellow _ we would love her the same.”

It’s an unusual case, but it’s not unheard of. Skin and eye colour are determined by melanin, and the amount or type of melanin is controlled by about a dozen different genes, For the Ihegboros, Nmachi’s blue eyes and blond hair must be the result of a trace of white ancestry from each of her parents’ genes.

It is known that in mixed race humans, the lighter variant of skin tone may come out in a child  and this can sometimes be startlingly different to the skin of the parents.

This is not the first instance that a couple of one race has given birth to a baby of another race, but it is certainly not common.

In 2008, a set of twins -one black, one white – was born to a German couple ( mother is black, father is white). Also that year, a British mixed race couple gave birth to their second set of twins with different colored skin. Just last week, the British tabloid the Mirror reported that a mixed-race woman gave birth to a set of twins – she was so sure the babies would have different skin tones that she nicknamed them Salt and Pepper.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.