DNA tests are being offered to couples in an effort to find out if they carry the red-hair gene. Even if both potential parents do not have red hair, it is possible that they may still carry the gene. Next month there will be a live exhibition at Olympia, in London, called “Who Do You Think You Are?” At this exhibition, couples can be tested to see if they carry the gene. The test is not invasive, like a blood test, for example. They can discover whether or not you carry the gene in a simple saliva test.
“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.”
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