New test can detect red-haired DNA from parents

How couples can find out whether they might carry the ginger gene

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Couples who want to know if they could have ginger babies are being offered red hair-detecting DNA tests.

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Ginger gene carriers can have redhead babies, even if neither parent has red hair.

According to Dr Jim Wilson, chief scientist at BritainsDNA (the ancestry company behind the test), the process is easy: “Through a simple saliva test to determine deep ancestry, we can also identify whether an individual is a carrier of any of the three common redhead variants in the gene MC1R.”

Dr Wilson added: “This means families can carry a variant for generations, and when one carrier has children with another carrier, a red-headed baby can appear, seemingly out of nowhere.”

It is estimated that about four in ten people carry the redhead gene variant without having red hair themselves – accounting for many surprise births of babies who are red-haired.

Approximately 40 per cent of men and women in Ireland carry a red head variant, but only 10 per cent have red hair. 

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Scotland has just over 30 per cent carriers and up to 13 per cent have red hair, while in England only six per cent of people have red hair.

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