People generally think the gene for baldness comes from the mother’s side. I remember being pregnant and having people ask me about my maternal grandfather’s hair, as this was supposedly a harbinger of my offspring’s hair situation. My grandfather was, to quote Mel Brooks in Free To Be, You and Me, “Bald, Bald, Bald as a ping pong ball.” So I felt pretty bad to be passing on the likelihood of hair loss to my kids. It turns out that the tendency toward baldness can come from both parents. All things considered, a baby has a 4 in 7 chance of getting the gene for baldness. I know the gene for thinning hair may not be the worst thing to pass on to your offspring. But balding can be tough on the self esteem.
And then there’s the issue of postpartum hair loss. An increase in shedding hairs the hairs retained during pregnancy can leave women with thinning hair or even bald spots. For almost everyone, this phase is totally temporary. But for women with the baldness gene, it is possible that hair may not grow back as thickly. Age is also a factor as many womens hair just isn’t as thick as they get older.
Which is why today’s news might give at least half of us some hope: Scientists have stumbled upon a discovery that may lead to a baldness cure.
The discovery did not involve humans, unfortunately. And it wasn’t even discovered by people studying baldness, but by researchers looking into the ways stress affected the digestive system. But it did provide some really promising results.
A group of mice bred for increased stress had begun to lose hair on their backs. The balding mice were given a chemical compound called a-stressin B over the course of 5 days. Three months later, the mice had totally regrown their hair. The effects lasted for four months, without a re-dose. Scientists think this could help lead to a cure for stress induced baldness in humans, and help lead to a discovery of a cure for hereditary baldness as well. Scientists estimate that this discovery is probably at least ten years off. But it’s nice to think that worrying about passing on bald genes could someday be a thing of the past. No sign of a cure for the gene for mousiness, however.