A Nigerian woman, Catherine Howarth, has left doctors stunned by having two white children, making her the only black mother in the world to have given birth to two white, blue-eyed children.
35-year-old Howarth, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, who is a financial analyst believes a rare recessive white gene resulted in her two children being completely white.
Although Catherine is married to a completely white man, Richard, a 37-year-old engineer, the couple thought their second child would be much darker than their first. They were stunned when their second child, a girl – Sophia came out as white as her big brother.
Catherine Howarth who is of Nigerian decent with no white genes in her family insists that as far back as anyone can recall, her family records show they have all been black.
She said when their first child – Jonah was born, a genetic specialist said he was a one-in-a-million baby, because it was extraordinary given her African background that she’d have a child with blue eyes and pale skin.
The genetic specialist calculated the possibility of it happening again, saying it was less than one in a million. So when Sophia was born with white skin and blue eyes, she left her parents and doctors even more shocked.
According to Catherine Howarth, it seems the odds of it happening twice are millions-to-one, adding that no one has heard of a black mum having two white babies one after the other. In her words;
In her words:
“When I had Jonah he was so white both Richard and I thought the midwife had given us the wrong child. But if anything, having Sophia has been even more of a shock because we were sure it couldn’t happen twice.
I was stunned when I saw her blue eyes and light skin. Doctors were equally amazed when Sophia was born last March.
Each time doctors and midwives have all commented on our babies’ amazing colouring. People often get confused when they meet me with the children for the first time.
You can see them doing a double take, wondering if I am their mum. I do get tired of being stopped in the street by people asking if I’m the nanny. People seem to find it hard to understand how I could give birth twice to white children.”
However, she adds that when people get to know them more, they often say despite their blue eyes and white skin, they can also see a lot of her characteristics.
Despite the initial shock, the couple are delighted with their miracle children. Catherine Howarth believes the only logical explanation would seem that there must have been a dormant white gene in her family for years until now, but seems to be very dominant now.
The excited parents further reveal that when Jonah was born, his stunning looks attracted the attention of five modeling agencies, and his little sister, who is now ten months, is set to follow in his footsteps as she has already been signed up to talent agencies. At just three weeks she landed her first modeling job.
Their Dad Richard says they feel incredibly lucky to have a beautiful son and daughter. He adds that while it is interesting how the genes have aligned themselves, it doesn’t matter to them what colour their children’s skin are, because all that matters is having healthy and happy kids.
A Molecular Geneticist at Care Fertility, Colleen Lynch, further confirms the occurrence is a rare one saying:
“While you might imagine this couple would have babies who are a mixture of both their skin tones, there are so many genes involved that it is a million-to-one chance they have had white babies.
It is likely there is a white gene somewhere in the woman’s remote ancestry and due to an evolutionary throwback – known as atavism – this trait has suddenly reappeared.”
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Similarly, Prof. Ian Jackson from the MRC Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh adds that if the couple go on to have more children they could also be white.