How Is The Skin Colour Of Your Baby Determined While In The Womb?

By Bindu Vinodh

During pregnancy, it is common for all expecting mothers to wonder how their baby would look like. From hair to eye colour, skin tone and psychological traits, the looks and personality of your baby will remain a mystery when in the womb.

As an expecting mother, a dozen questions would do rounds in your mind, and in the process, you would have surely thought of the question 'what determines your baby’s skin tone?

How Baby’s Skin Colour Is Determined

We all know that genes have a role in determining the skin colour of a new-born, but how do genes determine what exactly your baby inherits from your partner or you? This is really confusing, isn’t it?

We have covered here some information on this common topic, and the article also clears some common myths associated with skin tone of a baby.

What Determines Your Baby’s Looks?

Heard of DNA? They are part of human cells that are responsible for the way various traits are inherited. In other words, it is the combination of all genes that may get mixed, when a baby is conceived. 

The human DNA is generally divided into various shapes called 'chromosomes’, with every human being having total of 46 chromosomes. So, your baby will inherit 23 chromosomes from each parent. Out of this one pair of chromosome determines the sex of the baby.

According to experts, there are 60,000 to 100,000 genes (made up to DNA) in a human being’s total 46 chromosomes. With all possible gene combinations, a couple has the potential to produce 64 trillion different children, and so now you know, how it is just impossible for anyone to predict how your baby may look like.

Most human traits are supposed to be polygenic (the result of a combination of many genes). Further, some traits like weight, height and personality have a major influence on which genes are dominant and which remain muted.

So obviously, certain genes are found expressing themselves dominantly, but the theory behind this is still not known. With so many genes involved, some traits may also skip generations, and there may be surprises in store too.

How Is Skin Colour Determined In Babies During Pregnancy?

While even experts find it difficult to predict the exact genetic determination of a human skin colour, it is a fact that the pigment, melanin, which is passed on from you to your baby that determines the skin tone.

Just like how the baby inherits the hair colour and other features from parents, the amount and type of melanin passed on to your baby is determined by the genes, with one copy each inherited from either parent.

For example, in the case of mixed-race couple, the baby inherits half of each parent’s skin colour genes randomly, so mostly he/she will be a mix of both parents. The genes are usually passed on randomly, so it is impossible to predict what exactly would be the skin colour of your baby.

Few Myths And Facts Revealed

Well, now you know the skin colour is completely dependent on the inheritance of genes from the biological parents of the child. However, despite understanding this, there are still various suggestions that pour in towards expecting mothers about the unborn baby’s looks and skin tone.

Myth: Consuming saffron milk regularly will result in a fair-skinned baby

Fact: Diet only helps in keeping your baby healthy. The skin colour of your baby is not decided by the diet you eat, and rather, it is totally genetic. Saffron is rich in calcium, and helps in the development of bones of the baby. So it is probably to motivate the expecting mothers to have nutritious foods that aspects such as skin colour have been linked to certain diets.

Myth:Eating more of almonds and oranges can decide the colour of your baby

Fact: Almond is rich in vitamin E, and has several essential nutrients including proteins, calcium, magnesium, potassium and riboflavin, which help in brain functioning of babies. Oranges are a rich source of vitamin C and dietary fibre.

They also have loads of B vitamins, folate, and traces of copper, potassium and calcium, which is essential for a clear skin texture, and for development of immunity. However, these have no role to play in determining the skin colour.

Myth: Including ghee in your diet can help with a normal and less painful delivery, apart from lightening the baby’s complexion.

Fact: Pure cow ghee is a good lubricant for joints and has plenty of essential good fats for the brain development and skin development of the baby while in the womb.

Similarly, there are plenty of myths that are created to promote consumption of nutritious food by expecting mothers, and associating it with the skin colour of the baby is just a trick. By and large, getting expecting mothers to consume well-balanced diet to keep them and the baby healthy is the main idea behind such tales.

So, with all the various combinations and influence of genes on your baby’s looks, it is just impossible to predict the eye colour, skin colour and hair colour of your baby. But, that’s the fun part of expecting a child, isn’t it?

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    Read more about: skin colour womb
    Story first published: Wednesday, July 11, 2018, 16:30 [IST]
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