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Do you want to know if your baby will be ginger?

Your children could have ginger hair even if neither parent does – and a simple DNA test can identify carriers of the ginger gene.

Samantha Parker photo
Border TV reporter Samantha Parker

But does it matter? Well, TV doctor Raj Persaud says recent research points to red hair being 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 blondes.

Estimates suggest that about four in 10 Britons carry the redhead gene variant without having red hair – accounting for the many “surprise births” of babies who are red-headed.

Dr Jim Wilson, chief scientist at Britain’s DNA, the ancestry company behind the test, confirms: “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.”

Martin Plummer, 42, chairman of Carlisle Rugby Club, had blonde hair when he was a child which got darker with tints of red as he got older.

The married dad-of-two says: “Hair colour is neither a disease nor a handicap.

“In the current climate where life is so fragile, hair colour does not form your personality.

“I think this test is ridiculous. The horrifying thing about it is if people would genuinely consider getting rid of an unborn child because of the colour of their hair and that is just wrong. Whatever next?”

Samantha Parker is a flame-haired reporter covering the west of the county for ITV Border.

The 29-year-old, of Greysouthen, near Cockermouth, says she suffered “ a degree of bullying at school” because of the colour of her hair.

“I am confused and concerned about the purpose of this test. Will this test stop couples from having children because they are ‘at risk’ of having a redhead?

“Surely the most important factor is whether a child is healthy or not?

“I won’t deny that I suffered a degree of bullying at school when I was a teenager but during those years I also had people stop me, my mother and siblings (all redheads) in the street to tell us how beautiful our hair was.

“I’ve heard every insult under the sun. I hated being different until the age of 16 when I realised how lovely it was to stand out.

“I don’t accept arguments that redheads are any different to people of other hair colours. Though my husband may disagree and say that I have the famed fiery temper!

“With redheads on both sides and Irish and Scottish blood too I don’t think I need this test to determined whether I am I likely to have red-headed children.

“When the time comes I hope my husband and I will be lucky enough to have a brood of redheads to keep up the numbers.”

Hairdressers say red has recently become a colour of choice for many women – particularly given the rise of stars such as Rihanna, Katy B and Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud.

Debbie Glaister, a senior stylist at Barbarella in Vulcan’s Lane, Workington, says: “Red hair was really popular last year, especially with Rihanna. There are loads of different shades that you can go for and they’re nice.

“Some people who have red hair and want it dyed tend to go for dark colours.

“To me this test seems a bit cruel.”

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.

The Red Head Test, offered by Britain’s DNA tests, will be available for free with every ancestry test order, for visitors to the Who Do You Think You Are? Live exhibition at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre, between February 22 and 24.


  • About 40 per cent of men and women in Ireland carry a redhead variant, according to Who Do You Think You Are? Live, 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 six per cent 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.
Have your say

What colour hair do you think my baby will have? I was blonde as a kid but have brown hair now. My mum blonde, dad dark and sister dark. Nobody on my side has ginger hair. My partner light ginger/blonde hair. Her mum and dad dark hair also her brother dark hair. Thanks

Posted by Dominic on 2 November 2013 at 06:57

I would be happy to have a test! I would be excited to know I have a possibility of having red head children! I love red hair, I can't understand why people get bullied for it.

Posted by Heather on 21 October 2013 at 20:40

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