By Avril Eyewu-Edero
A few years ago, a client asked for a DNA Paternity test for his first child, which we carried out and the result indicated that the man wasn’t the biological father of the child. So, the man decided to carry out paternity tests on his other two children. Sadly, they were also not his children. Sometimes, this is the reality some people have to face, but the good news is that Forensic Science helps with the answer.
A deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the hereditary material found in all humans. This can be found in nearly all the cells in the human body and usually located in the cell nucleus and some in the Mitochondria.
Apart from identical twins, no two people share the same DNA, this makes it a unique tool to identify people.
A DNA paternity test is carried out to determine the biological father of a child. In our genetic makeup, we receive half of our DNA (genes) from our biological father and a half from our biological mother.
A test is therefore conducted to determine if the child being tested carries half of his/her gene from the alleged father.
Usually for a DNA Paternity test, a sample from the mother is not always necessary but can be useful if possible, as it could help improve the accuracy by confirming that the mother shares some genes with the child (i.e. the right child was tested, in extreme cases).
DNA samples are mostly collected by a non-invasive and painless means of swabbing inside the cheeks for a buccal swab for a few seconds with a swab stick. The cells in the buccal cavity are just as rich in DNA as other sources in the body.
In a situation where the alleged father or child is deceased and there is a query about paternity that need to be resolved, DNA samples for Paternity testing can still be obtained, depending on the circumstances of the deceased body, personal effects such as clippers, hairbrush, drinking bottle /cup (not washed) can be sent to the laboratory for analysis. Also, it can be obtained from the deceased hair (with root), fingernails clippings, bone marrow, the neck of the femur, or humerus.
These samples would be tested, a profile will be developed and matched for comparison.
A DNA Paternity test is expected to be accurate as long as the test is carried out by an accredited and reliable laboratory.
So when in doubt, forensic science as the answer.