Early hair greying is many times a genetic predisposition with many cases of occasional grey strands noticed in children of eight years also. There are several cases when there is a discreet link between hair discoloration and a systemic disease which needs to be probed in detail.
What causes grey hair?
Many exposed to second hand smoke, low haemoglobin, thyroid disorders-hyperthyroid or hypothyroid or other genetic disorder diseases develop early hair greying. Greying of hair is nothing but pigment or melanin production inhibition in the root of the hair. A big farce is that fad-diets or protein-vitamin mineral nutritional supplements can affect the rate of greying. Greying of hair, be it due to the normal ageing process or untimely greying has been known to have a genetic basis. Once the melanin pigment dies out at the particular hair root, the new hairs that grow are inevitably greyish or white in colour.
Children suffering from blood cancer, HIV, undergoing chemotherapy, protein lacking diet, varying hormone levels or coronary heart problems experience hair greying. Grey thinning hair is noticed in children as young as five, is an indicator of the most conspicuous of all early aging genetic disorders called progeria, though such a child looks normal till the first year of his growth.
Children with genetic disorders like Down’s syndrome, cri-du-chat syndrome or dyslexia are known to show premature greying. Kwashiorkor, a disease caused due to protein- deficient diet in which the scalp hair becomes grey, thin and straight.
A dermatological infection related to the skin and scalp called Tinea amiantacea, causes greying dry hair. Quite a few children who have an atypical condition, Vogt-Koyanagi, when post a viral infection develop grey hair, caused due the malfunctioning of the body’s antibodies that target the melanin pigment in an attempt to ward of the viral infection.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is the leading cause of premature greying in children. Unless the child is on a stringent vegetarian diet, many cases are cited where babies develop it from the breast feeding mother who might herself be B12 deficient. Many despite a healthy diet are B12 deficient when the stomach might not be able to absorb the vitamin due to several ailments like tapeworms, tuberculosis, post-surgery or hereditary deficiency of molecules required to absorb the B12 vitamin.
An atypical autosome recessive syndrome called Gricelli disease is an immune lacking syndrome where the child affected shows silver grey hair with melanin clusters noticed on the hair shafts.
Disarray of skin pigmentation like vitilgo, which normally ensues after the fatality of melanocytes present in the skin, many times causes the loss of pigmentation in the hair.