Who’s the daddy? All you need to know about paternity testing

Fifty per cent of Kenyan men who go for paternity testing at the Government Chemist turn out not to be the real fathers of the children they have invested in emotionally and financially. This is according to information from The African Woman and Child Feature Service.

There are times when couples are compelled to ascertain, through science, the parentage of their children. One good example is when a partner is doubtful of fidelity or in the interest to safeguard rightful heirs. While it is almost automatic to determine maternity since the woman who gave birth is mostly the mother, surrogacy makes it a grey area that needs clarification when alternative parenthood methods are employed.  

Blood typing

The ABO system can be used to give evidence to a certain extent that the man could be included among the possible fathers to a particular child. The ABO system has four main blood groups, A, B, AB and O. A man is excluded from paternity when the child’s blood group is not present in one or both parents. Say, if both parents belong to AB blood group, they cannot, together, have a child belonging to blood group O. Likewise, parents belonging to the O blood group can only have children belonging to the same blood group; the man is excluded from paternity for a child with A, B or AB blood group. It is important to note that blood groups alone cannot conclusively prove paternity since different males can have the same blood group. The blood group information can only be useful in baseline exclusion of potential fathers but not confirming paternity.

DNA testing

DNA testing is the most accurate -- at 99.99 per cent -- and advanced technology used to determine parentage. The use of DNA testing for paternity determines whether a man IS or IS NOT the biological father of a particular child. According to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) Human DNA Identification Laboratory, a standard paternity test involves testing the father, mother and child. However, the results can still be conclusive without the participation of the mother if maternity is not in doubt. Currently, prenatal paternity testing can be performed to determine whether a man is the biological father of an unborn child.

Non-invasive prenatal paternity test

This test can be done as early as the seventh week of pregnancy. The Bioinformatics Institute of Kenya (KIBS) expounds that the procedure is 100 per cent safe, does not expose the mother or child to any risk since it only the maternal blood is drawn. Through rigorous DNA sequencing instruments, the method is 99.99 per cent accurate and can also detect the gender of the unborn baby. It relies on small amounts of foetal DNA in the mother’s blood during pregnancy.

Invasive prenatal paternity test

A small volume of fluid is collected invasively through inserting a needle through the abdomen — amniocentesis — or a tissue sample from the placenta, a process called chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Mouth swabs are collected for testing and comparison. KIBS estimates that approximately one per cent of women who undergo these invasive procedures risk having a miscarriage. 

DNA testing when father is deceased or missing

When it is not possible to test the alleged father, grandparent DNA tests are performed. According to KIBS, best results are obtained when samples of the two paternal grandparents, the child and the mother are tested. Additionally, samples from a paternal aunt or uncle can be collected for testing since they share 25 per cent of their genes with the child.

The Y chromosome test (Y-DNA Test)

The Y-DNA test is normally sought when a male would like to explore his father’s line ancestry. When it is impossible to find samples from any surviving relative of the alleged father, the Bioinformatics Institution of Kenya advises on the use of the Y DNA test to find out if males have a common lineage. Since this test is specific to males, females who seek to determine their paternal ancestry can ask their brothers, male cousins to take the test on their behalf.

DNA testing can either be a personal decision or is legally requested. Before taking the DNA testing;

·       Consider if you really want to uncover the truth

·       Get to know what it involves

·       Understand that there will be emotional implications

·       Prepare yourself when your privacy is invaded

·       Understand what the state laws say