Your due date is in a few weeks, and you’re wondering - will your baby have fair skin like you or browner shade like the dad?
This is something that most parents are wondering before their baby comes out into the world. They wonder about the best baby skin color predictor and if there is a way to know before childbirth what the skin tone is going to be.
But the truth is, it’s really not THAT easy to conclude that just because you and your partner have white skin, your baby will inherit your skin color.
It is much more complex than that.
Let’s get more into detail, shall we?
Baby Skin Color Predictor - It’s All About the Genes
One important fact you need to keep in mind is that parents can definitely have a baby whose skin color is neither one of their own. How?
It is in the DNA.
You see, when it comes to skin color, there is not just a single one gene involved. In fact, there can be many aspects of DNA all at work that determines the skin color.
These genes have a major effect in the color of the skin while others simply “fine-tune” it.
Let us talk about this thing called melanin.
Basically, the amount of melanin you have in your skin is something you inherit. It can change throughout your lifetime, especially when you expose yourself too much in the sun. Other skin conditions may also affect your melanin.
Now, going back to the thing I said about genes affecting your skin color…
Polygenic inheritance is the result of the different types of skin color a person has.
What does that mean?
Simply put, several genes influence melanin’s processes. So you cannot say that only one gene helps you determine a person’s skin color.
The Complexity of the Skin Color - It is Not THAT Easy to Predict
Skin color inheritance is not a very straightforward thing.
But one thing is certain - for a person who has genes with a much higher level of pigmentation, the skin is also more likely to be darker.
This explains the fact that children from mixed race parents may have a so-called “intermediate” skin tone.
The different genes tend to get shuffled around, thus affecting the baby’s skin color.
Fact: Each person has 2 copies of their mom’s gene and their dad’s gene.
Now, these copies are the same for the most part. It is only “mostly” and not entirely because if everyone has a similar DNA, then… All of us would be identical twins, right?!
So each person remains as unique because of the slight difference in the copies of the genes we have. In scientific terms, these are called differences in the genes alleles.
Let’s imagine a deck of cards. That’s pretty much the best analogy we can have for how genes and alleles work in determining a baby’s skin color.
Individual gene is kind of like a card that has its unique design such as jack, king, ace, etc. And cards can also have a variety of suits including clubs, hearts, diamonds, spades. This is why there can be multiple versions of each card.
For instance, your parents gave you one card each from their individual decks. Even if you receive two jacks, they might be either one of these things - same suit (both jacks) or different suits (one jack of diamond, one jack of hearts).
Another example is this - let’s say that black cards are equivalent to dark skin and red cards mean light skin. If your dad has dark skin and your mom has light skin, your skin color will be a mixture of their skin color.
In short, your skin tone is more in the medium range than white or dark.
The same happens when your spouse has parents with the same skin tone. Mixed color is still likely to occur.
You know what is even more fascinating?
Supposing you are expecting to have two babies… They are likely to have a different skin tone from each other. In fact, there are parents with twins whose skin color do not look alike at all.
The Battle of the Stronger Genes.
When it comes to genes, we cannot say that they all have the same strength quality.
In other words, some genes have a greater effect while others have less.
There are genes that actually predicts and impacts your baby’s skin color. Meanwhile, other genes are just for the sake of fine-tuning or giving the skin color its final quality.
What about with kids who have red hair and light skin but neither one of their parents have redhair, and their skin tone is not that light?
How does this occur?
The MC1R is a gene that serves as that “switch” for a much darker skin. In most cases, the sun can handle the turning on of the switch just fine. This is the reason why people get a tan, because this gene is “turned on”.
There are instances when one type of the MC1R fails to work. So in the case of people with both copies of their MC1R don’t work, your skin becomes much lighter.
It actually takes two recessive or non working MC1R alleles that will impact the lightness of your skin. In the same way, this “switch” also impacts the color of your hair.
You Can Control Your Genes
Although genes may seem to be all-too-powerful, did you know that you can still control them?
The DNA you’ve got since birth has every single information about what makes you YOU. But at the same time, it has no absolute control of your future.
Sure, the MC1R depicts how your skin will react to the sun. There are people who will tan, get freckles, or burn. BUT they are still in full control of how much sun he would get.
This is why in the end, your baby’s skin color at birth does not finalize the skin color she will get throughout her lifetime. It can still change over time depending on the choices made on the amount of sunlight she gets.