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White baby born to black parents

A Nigerian couple just got quite a surprise: Angela Ihegboro gave birth to a white baby with blue eyes and curly blond hair, reports The Sun, a British tabloid.

"Actually, the first thing I did was look at her and say, 'What the flip?'" says Ben Ihegboro, the baby's father, who came to Britain with his wife five years ago and now lives in South London with their two other children. He says infidelity is out of the question. "My wife is true to me. Even if she hadn't been, the baby still wouldn't look like that."

The baby, which the couple named Nmachi, is not an albino, doctors say. Ben Ihegboro says his mother has a fairer shade of skin, "but we don't know of any white ancestry. We wondered if it was a genetic twist. But even then, what is with the long curly blond hair?"

It's an unusual case, but it's not unheard of. Skin and eye color are determined by melanin, and the amount or type of melanin is controlled by about a dozen different genes, as Bryan Sykes, an Oxford University professor of human genetics, told the tabloid. For the Ihegboros, Nmachi's blue eyes and blond hair must be the result of a trace of white ancestry from each of her parents' genes.

"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," Sykes told The Sun. "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."

Nmachi and her family have good company: In 2008, a set of twins -- one black, one white -- was born to a German couple (the mother is black, the father is white). Also that year, a British mixed race couple gave birth to their second set of twins with different colored skin. And just last week, the British tabloid the Mirror reported that a mixed-race woman gave birth to a set of twins -- she was so sure the babies would have different skin tones that she nicknamed them Salt and Pepper. (The mother is dark-skinned, and the father is white.)

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