Albinism is an inherited condition that is present at birth of a child. The characteristics of this disorder are a lack of pigment that normally would give a certain color to the skin, hair, and eyes. Many types of this disorder actually exist because varying shades of skin color results from varying levels of influence that Albinism may cause.
1. Carriers have a 50% percent chance of passing the albinism gene to their child.
2. If both parents are carriers, there is a 25% chance for each of their children to have albinism.
3. It occurs in fewer than five people per 100,000 in the United States and Europe, but the rates are higher in other parts of the world.
4. People with albinism may be very far-sighted or near-sighted.
5. The four types of oculocutaneous albinism are designated as type 1 (OCA1) through type 4 (OCA4).
6. Overall, an estimated 1 in 20,000 people worldwide are born with albinism.
7. Studies suggest that type 4 occurs more frequently in the Japanese and Korean populations than in people from other parts of the world.
8. Type 3 albinism occurs more frequently in people from southern Africa.
9. The four types of albinism each result from mutations in a single gene.
10. Children with albinism typically develop at a pace that is 2-3 months behind children without the disorder.
11. There is an odd belief in Zimbabwe that a man with HIV or AIDS needs to have sex with a woman with albinism if he wants to be cured.
12. Every species on the planet has a mutation that occurs which causes albinism.
13. The oldest record of this skin disorder comes from the Roman Empire.
14. As long as someone’s skin is protected from UVA/UVB, the average lifespan of someone with this genetic disorder is actually longer than the general population.
15. Albinism is not contagious.
16. The rate of Albinism is highest in Tanzania and Burundi, where the disorder affects about 1 in every 1500 people.
17. People with albinism can synthesize Vitamin D about 5x faster than very dark-skinned individuals.
18. A study amongst individuals with albinism in Tanzania revealed that 100% exhibited skin damage by the first year of life.
19. Within Tanzania, less than 2% of albino children were expected to reach 40 years of age.
20. Advanced symptomatic cancers are observed in 50% of those with albinism between 20 and 30 years of age when proper skin protection is not utilized.
21. For people with albinism, their vision is many times in the range of 20/200.
22. About 1 in 70 people are albinism carriers, with one defective gene but no symptoms.
23. In the early 2000’s, a blood test has been developed that can identify carriers of the gene for some types of albinism.
Causes and Risks of Albinism
Children get this disorder because the flaws in the genes for making pigment is passed along from at least one parent. Every cell in the human body has a matched set of genes, one that comes from each parent. These genes are like a blueprint as they guide the development of a fetus during a pregnancy. Albinism happens when these genes that create pigment are incorrect. The result is that no pigment may be made and skin, eye color, and hair may actually be colorless.
Albinism can be found in all racial demographics and in all ethnicities. One of the things that people believe about those with this disorder is that they have red or pink eyes all of the time. This isn’t true, although it has been known to happen. The eyes can actually be any color, including blue or gray. The eyes are the focus of this disorder because the lack of pigment creates a unique set of problems for individuals who are suffering from it. People with albinism are often sensitive to light and may have other eye issues which need to be addressed.
As the statistics of albinism show, this disorder is quite rare in the world today and especially rare in the United States. There is no cure for this disorder and no way to prevent it from developing within the womb.
Prevention and Risks
Albinism is not anything to fear. It is simply a way of life for many people in the world today and this is one of the few genetic disorders that may not affect the quality of a person’s life from an overall standpoint.
Even though there is a certain level of attraction to people with this disorder, there are also a number of interesting belief systems in place that are completely false. Some people believe that those with albinism cannot have children because they are sterile. Others will actually murder people with this disorder so they can collect their body parts and consume them because of suppose it health benefits. With the number of charity groups increasing in size to help this population demographic, it is entirely possible for the average person with albinism to live a happy, full life.
Outside of skin concerns, eye concerns are a big issue with this disorder. Taking care of one’s eyes is incredibly important in those with albinism so that sight isn’t lost in the future because of exposure to the brightness of the sun. People with this disorder tend to have more developmental difficulties as well, but this is typically because of the social pressures that occur. Eyesight issues may also cause learning disabilities that could prevent people from being able to develop as quickly in academic situations as compared to the general population.
What is remarkable about this disorder is that many people see the traits of albinism as desirable. With blonde hair, light eyes, and fair skin, many Caucasians view many of the traits of this disorder as physically attractive. This is good news for people who are suffering from this disorder. Instead of being shunned, they will be welcomed with open arms because people will have a natural desire to be around them.