Parents-to-be have the chance to find out whether they could have children with red hair.
A simple DNA test, which will available at an Olympia exhibition next month, can identify carriers, say event coordinators.
Carriers of the gene variant can have red-headed children even if neither parent has red hair, according to the organisers of Who Do You Think You Are? Live.
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
redhead 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.”
In a blog for The Huffington Post UK last year, Dr Raj Persaud highlighted that recent research suggests red hair is associated with significantly less attractiveness and a lack of congeniality. However, the hair colour is also associated, among women, with higher levels of competence, in comparison to blonds.
It is estimated that about four in 10 Britons carry the redhead gene variant without having red hair – accounting for many surprise births of babies who are red-headed.
Ahead of taking the test, the following questions can help work out the chances of being a carrier:
- Do you have any redheads in your family?
- Are there any redheads in your partner’s family?
- Do any of your ancestors come from Ireland or Scotland?
If the answer is yes to any of the above, you are more likely to carry the ginger gene.
About 40% of men and women in Ireland carry a redhead variant, according to a statement from Who Do You Think You Are? Live, but only 10% have red hair.
In Scotland, just over 30% are known carriers and up to 13% have red hair, while in England only 6% of people have red hair.
About one quarter of the children of two carriers will be born with red hair and half will themselves be carriers. Half of the children of a carrier will also inherit the variant, even if their other parent is not a carrier.
The RedHead Test offered by BritainsDNA tests will be available for free with every ancestry test order, exclusively for visitors to the Who Do You Think You Are? Live exhibition at London’s Olympia exhibition centre, between the 22nd and 24th of February.