[Paleopsych] World Science: One in 25 dads could unknowingly be raising another man's child, researchers find

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One in 25 dads could unknowingly be raising another man's child, researchers 

Aug. 12, 2005
Courtesy BMJ Specialty Journals
and World Science staff

Around one in 25 dads could unknowingly be raising another man’s child, new 
research suggests. The study is published in the September issue of the Journal 
of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The implications are huge, said the researchers, because of the growing 
reliance of judicial and health systems on DNA profiling and genetic testing, 
such as organ donation and criminal identification.

More frequent testing means more parents are likely to learn about their 
children’s true status, with devastating consequences for some families, they 

More instances of the phenomenon, which scientists politely term “paternal 
discrepancy,” may come to light through the ever-more common paternity tests 
being conducted in Western countries, the researchers said. In the United 
States, rates of such tests more than doubled to 310,490 between 1991 and 2001.

The authors based their conclusions on an array of international, published 
scientific research and conference findings, covering the period between 1950 
and 2004.

In the U.K., around a third of pregnancies are unplanned, the researchers said, 
around one in five women in long term relationships has had an affair. Other 
developed countries have reported similar figures.

There are few support services to help those affected, added the researchers, 
Mark Bellis of Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, U.K., and 
colleagues. And there is little guidance on what roles healthcare or criminal 
justice system workers should play in disclosing paternal discrepancy.

“In a society where services and life decisions are increasingly influenced 
by genetics, our approach to [paternal discrepancy] cannot be simply to ignore 
this difficult issue,” wrote the researchers.

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