Who does your child look like?

Who does your child look like?
Your baby has mommy’s green eyes and daddy’s brown hair. A child’s physical appearance mostly comes from her parent’s genetic baggage, but it’s also a bit of a game of chance.

Your baby has mommy’s green eyes and daddy’s brown hair. A child’s physical appearance mostly comes from her parent’s genetic baggage, but it’s also a bit of a game of chance.

Are you expecting a child and wondering what colour her eyes will be? Statistically speaking, chances are high that they’ll be brown, as this is the most common eye colour in the world. That said, eye colour is most definitely an inherited trait. For a long time, we believed it to be a simple question of dominant or recessive genes, where the brown-eye gene was more dominant than the blue. So for a child to have blue eyes, it was thought that she had to have received two blue-eye genes from her parents (one from dad and one from mom). A blue-eye gene and a brown-eye gene, or two brown-eye genes resulted in brown eyes. Now, however, recent studies have revealed that the reality is a lot more complex.
Some inherited traits (e.g.: black skin, blue eyes) can skip one or several generations.

Eye colour depends on several genes, of which some are mutations. It’s the combination of the mutations and the interaction between genes that determine the colour.

This is why there are so many varying shades of eye colour: brownish-green, hazelnut brown, blackish-brown, grey, bluish-grey, etc. So, even though rare, it is possible for two blue-eyed parents to conceive a brown-eyed child. It’s therefore impossible to predict with any certainty the eye colour of an unborn child. One single mutation of a gene and the colour can change!

Many physical characteristics can also be explained by the combination of several genes. Take skin colour, for example. If one parent is white and the other, black, their child’s skin colour can vary by several shades, from lighter to darker. Height is another characteristic that depends on several genes and even some environmental factors such as nutrition. With regards to hair colour, that’s also the result of more than one gene. There are an infinite number of possible shades, but genes for dark hair (brown, black) generally tend to have the upper hand over genes for blond or red hair.

In short, we can never know in advance whom a baby will look like. The one thing that is certain is that your baby will be one of a kind and probably also the most beautiful person in the world… at least to you!

Remember

  • Genetics, family, friends and society all influence personality development.
  • You can help your child by adapting your behaviour and requests to her temperament.
  • Physical characteristics come from a combination of several genes.
Naitre et grandir.com

Source: Magazine Naître et grandir, November 2015
Research and copywriting: Nathalie Vallerand
Scientific review: Jean-Pascal Lemelin, professor with the Department of Psychoeducation at Université de Sherbrooke, and Dr. Bruno Maranda, medical geneticist at the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke

Photo: Maxim Morin (bottom photo)