Did you know that the color of your baby’s eyes could change after birth? I’m sure many mothers may either not be aware or may never have thought of this. But, the fact is, children inherit the color of their eyes from their parents too. What’s more interesting is that the color of the eyes changes over the first year. Afro-American, Asian and Hispanic babies are born with dark eyes and the color does not change. But Caucasian babies born with dark blue or grey eyes may undergo a change in color before they turn 1. So, here’s where the eye calculator comes in use where you can actually use it to predict which color will ultimately prevail. Before getting into the details of why and when the color of your baby’s eyes change, let’s first know what actually determines the eye color?
What Determines Eye Color In Babies?
Most babies with fair skin have light colored eyes. This is because they have very little melanin, a pigment that gives color to the eyes. Genetics control how much melanin a person will have. And the DNA your baby gets from you and your partner determines whether the color of the eyes will be green, blue, grey or black. Normally genes mutate to give alternate forms or alleles and three such pairs of alleles are responsible for the color of the eyes.
Where Does Eye Color Come From Mom Or Dad?
Human beings inherit two copies of genes, one from each parent. If both these copies match and are dominant, it is homozygous and if not and are recessive, they are heterozygous. Brown/green are normally dominant eye colors while blue is recessive. Therefore, if both parents have brown/green eyes, there is a 75 percent chance that the child will inherit this color. Alternately, because blue is recessive, it is highly unlikely that the baby will get this color if both parents have brown eyes. Therefore the mother’s and the father’s genotype (gene combination for a particular trait) normally determines the color of the eyes.
Can Parents With Brown Eyes Have A Child With Blue Eyes?
Yes, it is also possible that a baby whose parents have brown eyes may end up being blue-eyed. This is possible because one of the parents might have the genes for blue eyes dormant somewhere in their genetic makeup. This means, that this color which lay dormant in their parents must be from the grandparents. Also, because eye color is polygenic (a trait influenced by multiple genes working together), other genes can have an effect on the color as well.
Why Does Baby’s Eye Color Change Frequently?
While it may sound absurd otherwise, by the time your baby enters the 6th month and between then and the 9th month, it is possible that the color of the eyes may change. By this time, the iris has let out enough pigment for you to predict the final color that will be permanent. The change is so gradual that you may sometimes miss it until you are surprised to find your baby with a new eye color. In fact, in some children, the eye color may change until they turn 6 years. This does not happen often though. At the time of birth, there is a deficiency in melanin which gets better with time and therefore the baby’s actual eye color begins to appear.
When Should You Talk To Your Doctor?
- Unless your baby has Waardenburg syndrome or Heterochromia Iridis, you need not worry much. In the former, babies are born with both eyes of a different color (maybe one brown and the other green). This is the result of a genetic disorder and you need to consult your pediatrician for help. Waardenburg syndrome in babies in often accompanied by sensorineural hearing loss
- Heterochromia Iridis is also genetically acquired which affects the iris. In this, the baby has two colors for each eye. This is a rare occurrence in babies and occurs because of a gene alteration which can result in excessive pigmentation in one of the iris. It can also occur if the mother has taken any medication to treat glaucoma or any trauma suffered at the time of birth. This also is a cause for concern and needs assistance from the pediatrician
- Another condition to watch out for is crossed eye in newborns. Normally newborn baby’s eyes look crossed till they are 4 months old. But if it persists or doesn’t seem to be getting normal with time, you must seek medical attention. It could either be strabismus (misaligned eye) or amblyopia (lazy eye) which can be treated successfully if diagnosed early. To know more on this read: Crossed Eyes In Newborns
All this information is not meant to overwhelm a new mom who is basking in the new found happiness. It is aimed at creating awareness on an issue that is not much talked about. Ultimately it is genetics that determines the color of the eye; it does not depend on how much your baby eats or how much light they are exposed to. So, don’t worry much unless you notice something completely out of the ordinary.