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To Baldly Go – The Genetics of Hair Loss


Countless rumours circulate regarding baldness: that males inherit it from their mother’s side of the family and females from their father’s side. However, the truth of the matter is that baldness is not adequately understood for presumptions such as these to be made. The ongoing development of DNA tests will allow scientists to ascertain how likely it is that a man will suffer from baldness later in life.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

With advances in DNA tests, men will no longer have to research their family trees to find out if they will suffer from male pattern baldness. New types of DNA tests will provide conclusive information about baldness and allow men to prepare for life without hair. These new tests have proved successful in predicting male pattern baldness by looking for a genetic variant in the man’s DNA profile that is common to 95% of all bald men.

What the Results Mean

It may not be a very pleasant experience for a man to take part in DNA tests to establish their genetic predisposition for baldness but the DNA results will provide advance knowledge of what lies ahead. If the genetic tests show that the man does have the genetic variant for baldness then there is a 60% chance of them going bald before reaching the age of 40. These tests can also look for a rarer genetic variant that, if present, will confirm that there is an 85% chance that the man will not go bald before 40.

Limits of the Baldness DNA Tests

It is well known that using DNA to establish paternity is 100% dependable way when proving parentage and tracing ancestral origins but there are those that claim DNA tests have limitations when it comes to predicting male pattern baldness. A DNA expert from Columbia University, Angela Christiano, says “It is hard to pinpoint the cause of baldness because very few genes connected to hair loss have been identified”.

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