You may have heard that all babies, at the time of birth, have blue eyes that either remain blue if it’s their natural color or change later on. The term “baby blues” has come to refer to postpartum sadness as a result of this rumor. There’s an element of fact and fantasy to this notion that this article will explore.
If you’re still wondering, are all babies born with blue eyes, here’s the final verdict based on scientific observation.
Are All Babies Born with Blue Eyes?
Short answer, no. But most Caucasian babies are born with blue eyes, and many of them lose this eye color over time.
However, according to observations from across the world, the most prevalent eye color at the time of birth was found to be brown, not blue. It’s true that a lot of babies do start with blue or gray eyes, but this color changes for months after being born.
A 2016 Stanford study found that nearly two-thirds of babies are born with brown eyes and less than 1 out of 5 with blue eyes. The study included a varied sample size with all ethnicities of people, including Caucasians. It also found that most of the babies born with blue eyes were Caucasian.
What Determines Eye Color?
The color of your eyes, both when you are born and the final color they develop into as you mature, depends on your genes. Variations in your genes affect the production, transport, and storage of a pigment known as melanin. Melanin is the pigment that is responsible for the color of your skin, hair, and eyes.
Those with high levels of melanin in their skin have darker skin and darker eyes. Your eye color is dependent on the amount and quality of melanin present in the front layers of the iris. If you have brown or black eyes, it suggests that you have a large amount of melanin behind your iris. People with blue eyes have less melanin.
If you had no melanin, it would make your eyes look somewhat translucent and grayish in appearance. It also means your iris wouldn’t be able to block any of the light coming in, which would be really harmful to the eyes. People with extremely low levels of melanin in their eyes suffer from a condition known as albinism.
Why Do Babies’ Eyes Appear Blue or Gray at Birth?
One of the main reasons behind the perpetuation of the blue eyes myth is that most Caucasian babies are born with blue eyes. However, over time, 4 out of 5 of these babies lose the blue color in their eyes and develop darker colors.
This is because melanin production begins in response to light. And because babies have only been in the womb where light doesn’t penetrate, their melanocytes (melanin-producing cells) are yet to be activated. This causes lighter eye color in all babies. Over time, as they become more exposed to light, their eye color will start to form based on their genetics.
Does A Baby’s Eye Color Change?
Yes. As previously explained, once the baby’s eyes start getting exposed to light, they begin secreting more melanin and their eyes turn darker.
This process can take place over a couple of weeks and sometimes even lasts for years. But, most of the time, blue eyes darken.
Why Some of Them Lose Blue Eyes When They Grow Up?
Whether or not a baby will keep their blue eyes into their adult years depends on their genetics. If your parents or grandparents have blue eyes, you’re more likely to also have blue eyes because you’re genetically predisposed to low melanin production.
Sometimes, and this is rare, it is possible for eyes to only develop partial color. It’s due to a condition known as heterochromia iridum, and it’s usually not serious. This can manifest in different ways. You may have multi-colored eyes or two completely different colored eyes.
When To Be Concerned
By the age of 1 year, most babies will have developed their permanent eye color. And though it’s rare, there have been cases where the eye color can take up to 6 years to become permanent.
If your baby’s eyes are way too light or gray for months after birth, you should have them checked out by an eye specialist to rule out conditions like albinism.
Heterochromia iridum is not dangerous but can be the result of damage to the eye that your baby may have suffered when he/she was unsupervised. As you can never be too careful when it comes to your kids, getting an eye-check up is the best thing to do.