Genetics are a wild and crazy thing. When it comes to interracial couples, we usually expect that the dominant genes will be the ones that take over. When two parents of the same race have a baby, however, we all assume that their child will also have the same appearance as they do. That’s why this Nigerian couple who gave birth to a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed baby in 2010 calls their child their “miracle baby”. Their daughter has defied everything that most of us assume about human genetics. (1)
The Black Parents Who Gave Birth To A White Baby
In 2010, Angela and Ben Ihegboro, a Nigerian couple living in London, England, were excitedly awaiting the birth of their third child. There was some special excitement because after being blessed with two sons, the couple was going to be having a girl. The delivery day finally arrived and all things went smoothly. When the parents had their first look at their baby girl, however, they were somewhat shocked. Their daughter had blond hair, blue eyes, and completely white skin.
“She is beautiful, a miracle baby,” mom Angela said of their baby girl, who they named Nmachi.
Ben, the father, joked around about whether or not this little girl belonged to him. He was quick to clarify that he was, in fact, kidding. After all, 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. Of course, the parents, the doctors, as well as many interested scientists were interested to know how this could have happened. (2)
Read: Photographer Gives Birth to Twins, One Dark-Skinned and the Other Albino, and They Are a Sight For Sore Eyes
One of the first thoughts about baby Nmachi’s appearance is that perhaps she is an albino child. The doctors at the hospital where she was born said that this wasn’t the case. Reports afterward, however, stated that they hadn’t ruled it out entirely. It is, after all, one of the most common recessive gene disorders in Nigeria and comes in many forms. (3)
Another theory was that perhaps Ben and Angela had mixed-race ancestry. That is to say that 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 now. This does not exist in either of Ben or Angela’s family trees, however, so this could not explain the color of their child’s skin.
The third theory is that Nmachi’s skin color is because of a genetic mutation unique to her. If this is the case, she will likely also pass this genetic trait on to her future children, as well. This means that there could likely be more white babies in the Ihegboro family’s future, regardless of who Nmachi has the children with.
Time Will Tell
It is hard for doctors to say exactly which of the three theories is the correct one. With no known dormant white genes on either side of the family, this is the least likely suspect. From there, 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 Nmachi not having all the associated traits nor family history of the disorder. He said that both could have been carrying a copy of the albino gene that has not surfaced in either family for many, many years. He also reminded us that there are different types of Albinism. In type two, for example, 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 definitely 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 dad Ben. “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 know exactly how or why baby Nmachi was born looking the way she does. Either way, she is clearly very loved by her family.
Keep Reading: Identical Twin Sisters Give Birth To Sons On Same Day At The Same Hospital
- “Baby tale not black and white.” BBC. Clare Murphy.
- “The mystery of the Black couple who gave birth to a white baby.” Face2face Africa
- “Black parents give birth to white baby.” NY Post. Andy Soltis. July 21, 2010