HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Paternity Testing

The TImes U.K. reports on a rather startling new statistic found in paternity testing results.  According to the Times,

Research suggests that, as cases of teenage pregnancies, sexual infidelity and multiple partners increase, 1 in 25 fathers could unknowingly be raising another man’s child.

With improvements in genetic testing, thousands of fathers every year are discovering that “their” child is someone else’s. A study by scientists from Liverpool John Moores University concludes that 4 per cent of all men are unwittingly bringing up a child they have not fathered.

* * * *

The researchers, led by Mark Bellis, of the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool, analysed a wide range of international studies, looking at estimates of paternal discrepancy between 1950 and 2004.

Their findings, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, show that rates of cases where a father was not the biological father of his child ranged from 1 per cent in some studies to as many as 30 per cent. Experts generally agree that the rate is below 10 per cent. The Liverpool team said that their meta-analysis suggests a 4 per cent rate, meaning that about one in 25 families could be affected.

“For any father, identifying that the child they are raising as their biological progeny is actually sired by another man can have substantial health consequences,” the researchers said.

“Such knowledge can also destroy families, affecting the health of the child and mother as well as that of any man who is ultimately identified as the biological parent.” Suspected infidelity, as a result of a man finding out that a child is not his own, can lead to domestic violence against women.

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