DNA test that reveals whether you carry the ginger gene (even if neither parent has red hair)
Simple DNA test available at exhibition at Olympia in London next monthCarriers could have ginger children even if neither parent has red hairAbout 40% of us carry gene variant without having red hair ourselves
Daily Mail Reporter
05:23 GMT, 28 January 2013
07:49 GMT, 28 January 2013
'Ginger gene': Couples attending an exhibition are expected to be keen to discover if they could produce red-headed children (file picture)
Couples are being offered DNA tests to see if they are carrying the ‘ginger gene’.
Organisers of a heritage show are bracing themselves for an influx of couples keen to discover if they could produce red-headed children.
Carriers of the gene variant can have ginger children even if neither parent has red hair.
A simple DNA test, available at the Who Do You Think You Are Live exhibition at Olympia in London next month, can identify carriers.
Dr Jim Wilson, chief scientist at BritainsDNA – the ancestry company behind the test – said: ‘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 red-head variants in the gene MC1R.
‘This means that 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 red-head gene variant without having red hair themselves – accounting for many surprise births of babies who are red-headed.
About 40 per cent of men and women in Ireland carry a red head variant, but only 10 per cent have red hair.
In Scotland, just over 30 per cent are known carriers and up to 13 per cent have red hair, while in England only 6 per cent of people have red hair.
On the Continent, only about 1.3 per cent of people are red-headed, getting much rarer heading towards the south-east.
When counting the entire world population only just over 0.5 per cent (one in 200) have red hair, which is nearly 40million people.
Identifying carriers: Couples can get DNA tests to see if they are carrying the 'ginger gene' (file picture)
About one in four of the children of two carriers will be born with red hair and half will themselves be carriers.
'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'
Dr Jim Wilson, BritainsDNA
Half of the children of a carrier will also inherit the variant, even if their other parent is not a carrier.
Recent research indicates millions of Britons carry ‘silent’ genes for redheadedness.
While this does not turn their hair ginger, it may expose them to a range of increased health risks that afflict redheads.
These can include increased sensitivity to pain, skin cancer, Parkinson’s disease and even Tourette’s syndrome.