Every year, millions of babies are born, and every single one of them is different. With varying skin colors, eye colors, hair colors and their own characteristics, it’s what makes them unique. However, every year, approximately 5 in every 100,000 people are born with Albinism. This rare disorder is still relatively unknown because so many varying forms of it exist (as we said, we’re all unique!). Nevertheless, many scientists have dedicated their whole lives to find out even more about the disorder, its causes, and its effects.
What these dedicated researchers have found is that albinism is a congenital disorder that can be found within people of all races, ethnicities, ages, and genders and is the result of a partial or complete lack of a pigment called melanin. Amongst the majority of the general population, melanin (along with genetics) determines your skin color, your eye color, and your hair color. However, those who lack this pigment may develop stark white hair, white skin, and pale eyes. Although albinism does not pose an obvious health risk, those with albinism may suffer from eye conditions such as partial vision and blindness, as well as a sensitivity to light.
Albinism is a lifelong condition, but is rarely ever harmful and does not require treatment – because it is a genetic disorder which cannot be treated. Although those with albinism may need to attend eye tests more frequently and be careful when in direct sunlight, albinism does not get worse over time or with age. Most of the time, signs of albinism are found at birth, but there are many cases where it has been found later in life. There are also cases where doctors are baffled by the distinct characteristics a baby exhibits – just like little Bence. With his stark white hair, doctors were convinced that Bence was born with albinism. But what is the truth behind this white-haired baby?
A little baby with a big difference
Let’s be honest, we all get a bit worked up about our looks (yep, even you!) and we all wish we could turn back the clock to when we were youngsters, to a time where wrinkles didn’t exist, we had no idea what age spots were and the only bags we had to worry out were the ones we took shopping – not the ones under our eyes. The best thing about being a kid? Not spending hours choosing the right hair dye to cover your aging white hair. But this baby was different. Bence was born in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, and was born with a full head of white hair.
A normal birth
When Bence was born, the whole process ran smoothly. With no complications or problems, Bence’s parents were pleased to find their baby was healthy and happy. It was a normal birth. He weighed in at just under 12 pounds – which is slightly larger than the average weight, but not uncommon. He stood (well, not literally. That would be impressive) at 21 inches high, and was born with a full head of hair. Again, not uncommon. But what took his parents by surprise was the fact that his hair was bright white.
What could it be?
After getting over the initial shock of Bence’s full head of hair, his parents and doctors decided to test his vitals to ensure that he really was as healthy as he seemed from the outside. Thankfully, all of the vital checks came back positive, and their baby was perfectly healthy. But there were still a few questions floating around. What caused his hair to be SO white? Soon, the word albinism began to play on the doctor’s lips.
The doctors continued to talk amongst themselves to determine the cause of Bence’s white hair, and all came to the conclusion that Bence could, in fact, have albinism. Albinism is a congenital disorder which prevents the human body from creating melanin – a pigment which determines hair color, eye color, and skin color. Despite the fact he did not carry all of the characteristics associated with albinism, his stark white hair color did. To finally get an answer, doctors tested Bence’s blood and melanin levels.
The main doctor in charge of Bence’s case was Dr. Zoltan Kummer, who, after testing Bence’s blood, found that his blood did carry the low levels of melanin synonymous with albinism. He concluded that this low level was a definitive contributing factor to Bence’s unique hair color. However, this didn’t answer all of the questions. Bence’s skin was unlike any other albino case. He was not missing the pigment in his skin – only in his hair. So why was it different?
As more and more questions surrounded Bence’s case, many doctors began to speculate that his white hair may not be the direct cause of Albinism. Instead, it could be the cause of prenatal stress or another illness. Many babies are prone to anxiety and stress while in the womb, if the mother is feeling anxious or stressed, causing complications and problems with the baby’s health when born. Could this be why Bence’s hair was so white?
An adorable nickname
Finding out the cause of Bence’s white hair wasn’t a quick diagnosis, and Bence began to spend more and more time in the hospital – just enough time for the nurses and doctors to fawn over him! With his adorable looks and unique hair, Bence soon won over the hearts of the workers, who nicknamed the child ‘Prince Charming.’ As time went on, Dr. Kummer began to suspect that the loss of pigment in his hair is only temporary and that his melanin levels would increase over time.
The power of the internet
Like most parents, Bence’s mom and dad couldn’t help but show off their baby boy on social media and the internet, and he soon gained a loyal band of followers – as well as people who were not afraid to share their own views on Bence’s condition. Rather than agreeing with Dr. Kummer that his white hair was temporary, many internet users believed that his hair was a clear indicator of early albinism. Could it really be albinism?
Among those who offered their opinions on Bence’s unique hair color was a social media user who had previously questioned her grandchild’s diagnosis. In their post, they reported that albinism could be underdiagnosed – as they knew full well. Their own grandchild had been wrongly diagnosed, and it wasn’t until their grandchild was two-years-old that an eye doctor confirmed he suffered from yellow albinism. At twelve-years-old, he is now classed to be legally blind.
As Bence’s story began to build traction on social media, more and more users began to offer more of their own personal stories with albinism. One woman commented on the picture of Bence, likening his hair color to her own daughters when she was born. As she has grown older, her daughter’s hair has changed slightly to a dirty blonde color as she is not completely devoid of pigment. However, she has been diagnosed with albinism, despite this slight pigment.
A parent’s wish
As the stories continued to cover their social media, Bence’s parents began to worry. Nevertheless, they listened to what the doctors had to say. White hair could be associated with genetics and albinism, or it could be associated with mutant hair cells or vitamin deficiency. As there was no distinct correlation between Bence’s blood tests and albinism, doctors believed it was a rare fluke. This was a relief for Bence’s parents, as all they wanted was a healthy and happy baby. Luckily, this wasn’t the first time doctors from across the world had seen cases like Bence’s…
A white streak
Pigment loss in babies’ hair isn’t entirely uncommon, and doctors have seen these strange cases before. Because of their uniqueness, these cases often reach the public eye – and you may have seen some of them before! Just like Bence, MilliAnna had her own unique hairstyle. This baby girl, who was born in 2016 had luscious dark ringlets. But at the top of her head, in the middle of her curls, was a white streak.
Despite her resemblance to the evil villainess Cruella de Vil and her hair, MilliAnna was just too cute to be associated with Disney villain (thankfully!) And just like Bence, she was utterly adorable. After multiple tests into the cause of MilliAnna’s strange hair color placement, doctors found her small section of white hair lacked pigment. However, the rest of her hair and body contained the correct levels of melanin, meaning the white streak was isolated.
So what caused MilliAnna’s unique white streak? Well, in this case, it was all hereditary. Just like her own mother, her mother’s mother and her mother’s mother’s mother, they all sported the similar white streak to MilliAnna. In fact, nearly all of the women in her family had the same hairstyle! With their lack of pigment in one section, MilliAnna was not alone in her hair color and had a whole family around her who looked exactly the same.
As you can see from the photo, these women are rocking their white streak! After years of tests, MilliAnna and her family finally received a name for their condition – Poliosis. Poliosis refers to small patches of hair on the body that lack the melanin pigment and can affect eyelashes, eyebrows, the scalp or any other area with hair. In MilliAnna’s case, her pigment-free patches were the same as her families, on her scalp and forehead.
A family trait
MilliAnna’s unique family have found fame and attention across the world for their family trait and signature look. With her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all rocking the style, their family photos look pretty darn awesome. And just like her mother, MilliAnna’s white streak of Poliosis is right in the center of her head, a style many people spend hundreds of dollars at the hairdressers to perfect! Luckily, this family gets it for free.
Passing it on
With four generations of Poliosis in MilliAnna’s family, it’s highly likely that when MiliAnna grows up and finds someone who loves her white streak just as much as we do, her children will be born with exactly the same white streak. Her children will then pass the streak to their children, and so on and so on! MiliAnna is unique in her multicolored hairstyle, but there are some children out there who have no trouble growing an all-over ‘do.
A whole loada hair…
Most babies are born with little to no hair which can take years to develop fully – but there are some exceptions. There are some babies out there who rock their hairdos in the first few months, just like this little one! All babies are different, but a sudden growth of hair early on in life can often be associated with hormonal patterns and changes, as well as genetic variances. But this little one isn’t alone.
…And there’s more
We reckon these two babies could definitely have a hair-off – and we don’t know which one would win! When babies are born with luscious locks, many parents can worry that there may be something wrong with their child’s genetics, causing the growth. However, it’s nothing to worry about, and thousands of babies are born each year with hair do’s like this one. The only problem you’ll have is that you’ll need to fork out more for haircuts!
Hair is just the start of it
If you think babies born with full heads of hair is pretty out-there – just wait until you hear this! Every year, around 2,000 to 3,000 babies are born with teeth already developed. Yep, babies can be born with one or two (or more) teeth fully formed before they’ve even come out of the womb. Pictured is Alyssa Bailey, born in 2015. Alyssa stole the show after she was found to have two front teeth just after she was born.
The wonder of life
Despite their small size, babies are some of the most fascinating beings and are born with the most interesting traits – whether that be white hair, huge masses of hair or teeth! But even with modern medicine, it’s still hard to determine the cause. With Bence, doctors are still unsure whether his star white hair is due to albinism, or just a temporary shortage of pigment which will eventually fade as he grows up. Only time will tell…