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Of all the exciting conversations expectant parents will have about their baby, predicting hair colour can be one of the most uncertain. There is simply no way to predict with 100% certainty, what colour hair a baby will have. There are too many influencing factors and unknowns when it comes to predicting a baby’s hair colour, though it’s always fun to talk about!
It’s not until you’re holding your baby when they’re a newborn that you’ll know what colour their hair is and even then, be prepared for their hair colour to change as they get older.
Each of your baby’s genes are made up of dominant or recessive alleles. Put simply, an allele is one of two or more versions of a gene. We all inherit two alleles for each gene, one from each parent. When it comes to hair colour, the dominant genes tend to be expressed in darker hair and the recessive genes in fairer hair.
When you and your partners genes unite, your baby will have their own unique phenotype – the physical trait that makes them an individual.
Melanocytes are what makes the pigment which gives us our hair colour. There are two types of melanin in the hair – eumelanin, making our hair brown or black and pheomelanin – which gives hair a red colour. Many different genes are involved in determining shades of hair colour. These genes control the levels of eumelanin and pheomelanin.
If you and your partner both have dark hair, your baby is likely to have dark hair as well. This is because darker colours are generally dominant over lighter ones. However, if you have blonde hair and your partner has dark hair, your baby is likely to have darker hair. This is because the blond allele is recessive and the darker hair gene is dominant. Keep a lock of your baby’s hair from their first haircut, you’ll be glad you did.
Written for Huggies by Jane Barry, Midwife and Child Health Nurse, August 2021.