If you’re searching Are all babies born with blue eyes? to fact-check what you heard from one Peanut mama, at a family dinner, or around the water cooler, you’re not alone. The idea of baby blues (and not of the postpartum gloom variety) is one that is pretty well known.
So, is it true that all babies are born with blue eyes?
The answer is… No.
While it’s true that many white babies are born with blue eyes, it’s not true that most babies are born with blue eyes.
That’s not to say there’s not an interesting phenomenon behind the rumors—and this is it: babies born with blue eyes don’t always retain that color.
But to talk about baby eye color in blanket statements such as all babies are born with blue eyes is simply inaccurate. It’s far more nuanced (and for that reason, more fascinating) than that.
The truth about baby blue eyes
Are all babies born with blue eyes?
By now, we know that the answer to that question is a big nope.
In fact, according to this Stanford study, the reality is quite different. Of the 192 subjects studied, 20.8% had blue eyes at birth—while a whopping 63% had brown eyes.
So where did this tale of baby blue eyes come from?
To understand this, we first need to explore what determines eye color to begin with.
What determines baby eye color?
It’s all a matter of melanin.
Melanin is a protein that gives the irises of your eyes their color. Where does it come from? Cells called melanocytes. The color of your irises is dependent on how much melanin they contain.
More melanin means darker eyes (and skin and hair). Less melanin means lighter eyes (and skin and hair).
How much melanin is produced by a particular person has to do with their ethnicity.
Now, to make matters more interesting, melanocytes are responsive to light—it makes them more productive at their job of making melanin. While your baby is still inside you, there’s not a whole lot of light to go around.
Little light means little melanin production means lighter eyes (for some babies).
As a result, when these babies make their debut in the real world, their eyes may be temporarily blue. All the light they encounter outside the uterus might then work on those peepers and transform them green, hazel, or brown, depending on how productive those melanocytes get.
How can you tell if your baby’s eyes will stay blue?
First thing: it’s not as simple as looking at the parents. Eye color is not a simple genetic trait. Rather, eye color is the result of a bunch of different genes and how they interact with one another.
And then things get even more complicated:
Your iris consists of different layers. The back layer of all sets of irises has brown pigment in it. The front layer (the stroma) is responsible for how your eyes look to the rest of us.
- For brown eyes, the stroma contains brown pigment.
- For blue eyes, the stroma contains no brown pigment. Some of the light that enters the iris is absorbed by the back layer while the rest is reflected out, giving eyes their blue appearance.
So, maybe the correct answer to the question Do all babies have blue eyes? is: no, because nobody does. But that might confuse everyone—let’s just keep it to ourselves, shall we?
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