New parents can't get enough of staring into those baby blues. Blonde hair and blue eyes is the epitome of perfection for some new parents in the US. While mom and dad are busy looking into those beautiful new eyes, they're probably completely unaware of the fascinating facts that their baby's eye color tells them. It's hard to imagine that eye color has to do with anything, but there are some interesting facts and tendencies that babies with blue eyes have. There seem to be some genetic factors that connect blue eyes with certain personality traits, diseases, ancestry, and instincts. In fact, the levels of melanin in a new baby's body can affect everything from skin cancer risk to reaction times, of all things.
These facts about babies born with blue eyes are simply fascinating and point to an intricate interconnection among genes that affect both eye color and countless other traits. A baby's eye color harbors great clues about who they'll be as a person later in life.
After reading this, when mom gazes into her baby's eyes, she will see something different altogether! I can't help but wonder if Jared Leto, Zac Efron, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Patrick Dempsey, and Elijah Wood's moms all saw the same things in their baby blues as we do!
You may already know that all babies are born with blue eyes and that they will gradually change into their permanent color. What you might not know is why this happens. Basically, eye color is determined by the amount of melanin that the eyes produce. Blue and gray eyes have little to no melanin while dark brown eyes have lots of melanin.
Melanin kicks in when exposed to light. Before a baby is born, they are obviously shielded from light in the womb. But once they're born, their exposure to light will bring out their natural levels of melanin. As the pigment melanin builds up in the eyes, then the eyes might change color, or they might remain blue if there is limited melanin. You'll know for sure what color your baby's eyes will permanently be by their first birthday.
Your blue-eyed baby is related to every other blue-eyed person in the world. Let me explain. A researcher from Denmark theorized that every human born before 6-10,000 years ago had brown eyes. Then, there was one genetic mutation that caused blue eyes within a certain population. So, if we were to trace all the way back to this first blue-eyed person, all people with blue eyes in the world would be related to that common ancestor.
The genetic mutation that caused blue eyes most likely originated in a population from the Balkans or Black Sea where 99% of people to this day have blue eyes. So, your baby, and every other blue-eyed person in the world today, most likely came from an ancestor in that Baltic region.
When talking recessive and dominant traits in your baby, brown eyes would actually be the dominant trait. That means, brown eyes will always be the default if there are any brown-eyed genes. Unless both mom and dad carry a recessive gene for blue eyes, their baby will be born with dark eyes. If mom and dad both carry blue-eyed genes, then roughly one out of four of their children will have blue eyes.
If you remember back in your middle school classes learning about DNA, you might remember the Punnett Square. If you drew one out, you'd see that blue and green eyes will have the lowest percentage of likelihood. Behind Blue Eyes is a fascinating story about your baby's ancestry.
You already know that your baby is special, but if your baby has blue eyes, they really might be among a dissipating population. Babies with blue eyes are actually becoming more rare. Brown eyes are much more common, since blue eyes are determined by a recessive gene. Both parents have to carry the recessive gene for blue eyes for a baby to inherit blue eyes. So, the prevalence of blue-eyed babies seems to be diminishing in the US. In the early 1900s, about 50% of the population in the US had blue eyes. By the 1940s, only 30% of babies born in the US had blue eyes. Now blue-eyed babies are down to less than 16% of the population. That means, around 1 in 6 babies have blue eyes, so if you have a tot with baby blues, you might consider yourself lucky!
We talked about this above, but the amount of melanin in your baby's eyes is what creates their eye color. Therefore, babies with blue eyes typically have very little melanin. And with low melanin levels comes sensitivity to light. Sensitive eyes are a trait of blue-eyed babies, just because they don't have as much melanin to reflect the sun. If you have a blue-eyed baby, you'll want to be extra careful in the sun. Keep your little one out of the sun as much as possible with stroller umbrellas, hats and sunscreen when appropriate.
The light skin often associated with blue-eyed babies also makes them more prone to skin cancers later in life. The same melanin that gives color to the eyes, also colors the skin and hair. So oftentimes, blue-eyed babies are born with light, sunburn-prone skin that requires extra attention.
It goes without saying, but hopefully your baby doesn't have to experience pain for a very long time. However, there might be good news for your baby girl's future if she has blue eyes. Research has shown that blue-eyed girls have a higher pain tolerance than brown-eyed girls. A study at the University of Pittsburgh examined the difference between how blue-eyed women and darker-eyed women handled the pain of childbirth. Blue-eyed women had higher physical pain thresholds. Researchers surmise that all the genetic patterns that determine eye color may have a connection to pain tolerance.
In the same study, women with blue eyes had less depression, anxiety, and rumination postpartum than women with darker eyes. Hopefully your blue-eyed baby girl's genes will soften any mental and physical pain if she herself decides to have a baby someday, and perhaps non-baby-related pain as well.
Your blue-eyed baby may come genetically wired to be a more strategic thinker. For some reason, there's a link between people with blue eyes and strategic thinking, while brown-eyed people demonstrate better reaction times. One has stronger long-term thinking while the other performs better with short-term reactions. It is also thought to be true that the more melanin a person has, the quicker their brain reacts due to the way melanin insulates brain cell connections.
In the study, people with blue eyes performed better at activities that required more long-term planning for activities that are performed slowly over time like golf and running. They're able to pace themselves and structure their time better. Their darker-eyed counterparts had better reaction times in immediate circumstances, making them excel at activities like football and rugby. Sceintists aren't sure what the link between eye color and strategic thinking is, but let's just hope your blue-eyed baby comes packaged with a brilliant little mind like other blue-eyed brains such as Stephen Hawking.
Your blue-eyed baby may be more bashful than a brown-eyed baby. Babies with blue eyes will likely be amongst the most shy of children. There seems to be some kind of link between hair color, eye color and inhibition. A blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby might have a specific genetic predisposition that also affects their nervous system, making their fight-or-flight mechanisms more reactive and therefore makes them more shy.
Jerome Kagan has found that "They are the most likely to be fearful of new situations, hesitant in approaching someone, quiet with a new person, and the most likely to stay close to their mothers." To all the moms of blue-eyed babies, soak up this time with your little ones hiding behind your legs because although they might be shy as children, there haven't been studies showing the same link between blue eyes and shyness in adults. They'll probably grow out of it.
Blue eyes are associated with several rare conditions: Waardenburg syndrome, albinism, and uveal melanoma. Bright blue eyes can be a sign of Waardenburg syndrome, which is a genetic condition that affects pigmentation and hearing. Albinism causes a defect in melanin production, causing a lack of pigment in the skin and eyes. Ocular albinism is an even rarer form of albinism that only affects the eyes, so a person with this disease will have blue eyes, often accompanied by poor vision. Uveal melanoma is a melanoma of the eyes that blue-eyed babies will be more prone to since they tend to have less melanin.
There's one disease that your blue-eyed baby will actually be less prone to: vitiligo. Vitiligo causes white patches on the skin from the loss of melanin. Since people with blue eyes already lack high levels of melanin, they seem to be less prone to this disease.
Although it may seem subjective to rate a person on "agreeableness," scientists have found that those with blue eyes tend to rate less for agreeable traits like friendliness, compassion, and empathy. And other people perceive them as weaker, shyer, more competitive and less trustworthy than they really are. It may be that because those with blue eyes tend to be much more shy that they come off as aloof to others. And we know that they aren't weaker because we already talked about how they have a higher pain tolerance.
It's hard to tell why this happens, but there seems to be a relationship between the genes that create our babies' eye colors and their frontal lobes, where many of their personality traits are harbored. Don't worry though, what your blue-eyed babe might lack in agreeableness they make up in cautiousness and inner and physical strength, all of which have their merits.
Blue eyes are a window into the souls of your baby's ancestors. Babies with blue eyes likely have Caucasian parents or ancestors. Blue eyes are most common amongst Caucasians. People of African and Asian descent almost always have brown eyes, except in rare cases where there are Caucasian relatives on both sides of the family. So, if you are of African descent, and you have a baby with blue eyes, it means that there is a Caucasian somewhere in both your family tree and your partner's family tree. The only other time that blue eyes could present themselves in a family of African or Asian descent without Caucasian ancestry is with one of the rare genetic diseases discussed earlier.
Blue eyes are a genetic trait typically passed down by those of Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and Northern European ancestry. On the other hand, blue eyes are almost never seen in East Asia.
A 1987 study of motor reflexes found that those with blue eyes tend to have slower reaction times and reflexes. The study focused on reaction times during athletic activities that require agility and quickness like baseball, basketball and boxing. Brown-eyed people are better able to process speed than their blue-eyed counterparts, which makes them better at hitting targets in activities like archery and basketball.
Melanin seems to play a key role in insulating electrical connections in the brain. This seems to make the brain of a brown-eyed person more sensitive and fast-thinking. Brown-eyed people tend to be able to think faster and perform better under time pressure whereas blue-eyed people do better with time. That's not to say that with practice and conditioning, your blue-eyed baby can't go on to play professional sports like other blue-eyed greats! Those baby blues look great on Jesús Navas González.
It might sound strange, but studies have shown that blue-eyed men are significantly more attracted to women with blue eyes than any other eye colors. So your blue-eyed baby might be attractive to or attracted to a blue-eyed mate in the future. Since eye color is one of the only visible indicators of personality, perhaps there's a primitive mechanism in blue-eyed men that makes blue-eyed women so much more attractive. Primitive men would've wanted their progeny to carry on their traits with even more blue-eyed babies. Blue eyes would also have been a simple and reliable way for primitive men to ensure certainty of their baby's paternity. If both parents had blue eyes, then their babies would have had blue eyes too. Don't be surprised if your little blue-eyed boy falls for a pretty little blue-eyed girl someday!
It seems that the entire gene package that brings blue eyes also brings other factors, one of those being an increased risk of diabetes. Your blue-eyed baby is 12% more likely to develop Type 1 than babies with other eye colors. Other genes associated with blue eyes seem to bear some kind of connection to diabetes. Being a Caucasian with blue eyes and fair skin, specifically in a Mediterranean region with a specific amount of yearly sun exposure, seems to be linked to a prevalence in Type 1 diabetes. Perhaps it has more to do with nurture than nature in the different ways that Caucasians tend to eat, manufacture food, and perform activities that leads to the prevalence of the disease. It's hard to say. But the trend is definitely more significant among pale, blue-eyed babies.