A mother has beaten odds of a million-to-one by giving birth to a baby who appears to be of a different race.
Catherine Howarth, 32, from Milton Keynes, is Nigerian by heritage, and so was, at first, a little taken aback when she saw her son Jonah for the first time.
With his pale skin, green eyes and light brown hair, Jonah, now three months old, looks like any other new-born baby – but, when seen in his mother’s arms, his uniqueness is obvious.
Recalling the moment she delivered Jonah in Milton Keynes Hospital on June 1, his mother told the Sunday Mirror: ‘The midwife looked at me and looked back down at Jonah and then at me again and couldn’t believe it.’
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Father Richard (l) and mother Catherine (r) say all that matters is that Jonah (c) is healthy
‘Some children get darker after a few weeks when the skin colour they will have for life starts to become obvious. But you can see from the colour at the tips of their ears what that Jonah was fully white.
We have been told I must have been carrying a recessive gene. My parents were from Nigeria and, for as far back as anyone can remember; my family have all been black.’
Husband Richard, 34, who works as a medical recruitment consultant, was equally as shocked when he first saw his son, who is the couple’s first child together.
However, he was primarily just happy that Jonah was strong and healthy, after he got the umbilical cord tangled round his neck during labour – a potentially dangerous complication.
‘The colour of Jonah’s skin is of no concern – Jonah being a healthy and happy baby is what matters.’
The couple have been told that they are unlikely to have another white baby if they have further children, due to the extremely rare combination of genes needed.
The phenomenon is not totally unheard of however.
In 2010, parents Benjaman and Angela Ihegboro – both black – introduced their white-skinned, blonde-haired daughter Nmachi to the world.
The couple, from Woolwich, South London, was as baffled as the scientific community at their daughter’s appearance, being unaware of any white heritage at all in either family.
Doctors at Queen Mary Hospital in Sidcup in Kent, where Nmachi was born, immediately ruled out albinism, leading experts to conclude, that like Jonah, Nmachi’s colouring must be the result of recessive genes.
Benjamin says: ‘No one in the family is aware of any white blood at all, and I don’t really know how you go about looking any further. Part of me wants to know what’s happened here, to have an answer to tell Nmachi when she gets older. But another part of me thinks that it doesn’t matter. Perhaps God made her like this for a reason.
‘And quite honestly, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether she is white or black or red or green. She’s beautiful and healthy, and that’s what is important.’