Every parent-to-be is worried about their child being born healthy. But to see your child for the first time, and think ‘Is this really my child?’ is fortunately something that the majority of us will never have to contemplate. So, if you know that a) your partner has definitely not cheated (DNA tests may need to be done!) and b) there was no mix-up at the fertility clinic, then some parents are left scratching their heads at the mystery that nature launches upon them.
Little Nmachi, born blue-eyed and blonde haired, has left her parents in a state of shock. "We both just sat there after the birth staring at her," Dad Ben, 44 said, jokingly adding "is she mine?" Their two children kept coming over to look at Nmachi. Their two year old daughter Dumebi is too young to understand, but their eldest son Chisom, who is four, is still confused as Mum and Dad try to explain why Nmachi is white.
Her name means ‘Beauty of God’ in Nigeria where both parents originated. As of yet, there is no explanation. Neither of them know that they have any white ancestry. "All that matters is that she is healthy, and that we love her."
Professor Bryan Sykes, head of Human Genetics at Oxford University, called the birth ‘extraordinary’. Tests have proved that she is not an albino. Professor Sykes said some unknown mutation was the most likely explanation. He elaborated: "The rules of genetics are complex and we still don’t understand what happens in many cases."
There are many unusual birth stories centred on skin colour. Eight years ago in England, a white mother and black dad had twins with strikingly different skin pigmentation, one born white and one born black. The chances of this happening are apparently one in a million. But 5 years later, they got pregnant again with twins, with the same result!
Another woman gave birth to non identical twins, one who is black skinned, and the other fair skinned. The mother is West African, and her partner is German.
Although very rare, more and more unusual cases like these are being documented. These children and their families will no doubt grow up being constantly questioned, as people struggle to understand why they are different. Sometimes, even the experts can’t explain it!