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Black Parents Give Birth to White, Blonde Baby

A medical mystery in England -- how did a black couple have a white baby? When their baby was born in a hospital in South London last week, Ben and Angela Ihegboro were understandably shocked.

"We both just sat there after the birth staring at her, Ben told the British tabloid The Sun. "Actually, the first thing I did was look at her and say, 'What the flip?'"

And with good reason, because the baby is white as a sheet, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Neither Ben nor Angela has any of those traits. 

Doctors say the baby, named Nmachi, is not albino. There is no history of mixed races in Ben or Angela's families. 

Ben was quick to say the baby is indeed his. "My wife is true to me. Even if she hadn't been, the baby still wouldn't look like that."

Professor Bryan Sykes, head of Human Genetics at Oxford University called the birth "extraordinary."

He said, "In mixed race humans, the lighter variant of skin tone may come out in a child - and this can sometimes be startlingly different to the skin of the parents. This might be the case where there is a lot of genetic mixing, as in Afro-Caribbean populations. But in Nigeria there is little mixing."

Prof Sykes said both parents would have needed "some form of white ancestry" for a pale version of their genes to be passed on. But he added: "The hair is extremely unusual. Even many blonde children don't have blonde hair like this at birth."

Sykes said some unknown mutation was the most likely explanation. "The rules of genetics are complex and we still don't understand what happens in many cases."

But Angela doesn't care about the medical reasons for her daughter's color. "She's beautiful and I love her. Her color doesn't matter. She's a miracle baby. Then she said, "But still, what on earth happened here?"

The couple has two other children -- a four-year-old boy and two-year-old girl. The girl is too young to understand what is going on. But Ben says the boy is confused. "Our boy keeps coming to look at his sister and then sits down looking puzzled."

Ben continued: "Of course, we are baffled too and want to know what's happened. But we understand life is very strange. All that matters is that she's healthy and that we love her. She's a proud British Nigerian."


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