Albinism is a rare condition caused by alteration
Albinism is a rare condition caused by alteration, or mutation, of one of the genes that affect normal pigment production. In any one of several genes involved in melanin (mel-a-nin) production can produce individuals with less than the normal amounts of melanin. Lack of melanin can lead to many problems. When melanin is not in the skin, the skin has no protection against ultraviolet (UV) light and burns easily in the sun. People born with albinism, a recessive trait they inherit from their parents, have little or no production of the pigment melanin. Their own skin is ivory white, (even if their parents’ skin is normal) their hair white or pale, their eyesight weak.
Part of the reason for albinism’s rarity has to do with the genetics of this trait. Pigment genes have different versions, called alleles(uh-lels). People and most animals inherit one allele from each parent. Alleles associated with albinism are recessive, which means that an organism will show the trait only if it inherits two albino alleles. Many people–about 1 in 70–carry one allele for albinism and one for typical pigmentation.