Hair color of a child

Hair Color Genetics

  • 09-21-2021

Long before giving birth or even before pregnancy expectant mothers are trying to imagine how their baby will look like. And hair color is one of the features that one can try to predict based on the hair color of parents and other relatives.

Hair color of a child


Hair color is determined at the time of conception. The child receives 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 chromosomes from the father, forming a set of 23 pairs of chromosomes. Chromosomes contain genes that are responsible for the sex of the child, eye color, hair color, personality traits, and many other things that make us unique.

Each gene comes in two versions called alleles. One allele is from the mother, the other from the father. Alleles can be dominant (main) and recessive (suppressed by the dominant version).

As a rule, the alleles responsible for dark color (hair, eyes, etc.) dominate over light colors. For example, if a child has a dark-hair allele and a light-hair allele, the hair will be dark. Two dark alleles produce dark hair, and two light alleles produce blonde hair.

But this is a very simplified model. Many genes are responsible for hair color. Even if your hair is dark, you may have a version of the gene responsible for light hair color, and this is the version you can pass on to your child.

Pigment Melanin

In fact, genes carry information not about certain colors but about the amount of the same kind of pigment, which determines the shade of the hair. This pigment is called melanin.

Melanin, which affects hair color, is of two types: eumelanin and pheomelanin.

Eumelanin makes the hair dark, and its amount is responsible for how dark it will be. The less eumelanin, the lighter the hair will be.

Pheomelanin is responsible for the red hair color. A small amount of this pigment is present in all hair colors. But the more pheomelanin and less eumelanin, the redder your hair will be.

The amount of melanin changes throughout life, so hair color may vary depending on age.

Baby Hair Color Calculator

So, can we predict baby’s hair color? It is impossible to accurately predict the color because many genes passed on to a baby by mom and dad influence the color of a baby's hair. But you can make some probability calculations based on your family's hair color history.

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