Paternity Testing Research
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|Testing And The Impact On Families
New research published in the United Kingdom suggests that about 4 percent of fathers, without their knowledge, are raising a child that is not their own. The implications are serious because if they were to go down the route of paternity testing the revelations very often lead to a family break-up and increased risk of depression and mental health problems in all concerned. In addition, children whose family life is disrupted by such news are more likely to struggle with low self esteem, anxiety and aggression. Researchers say that the social impact of genetic testing can also extend to other areas such as screening for genetic disorders and birth defects, as well as genetic testing for breast cancer and heart disease.
Currently most people who test for paternity do so using a home paternity test kit. They receive their results in the post or by email. Researchers say that receiving what can be quite dramatic information this way, without being linked into counseling or health support services can be harmful. If statistics show that 4 percent of fathers are affected, this means about 1 in 25 families are sitting on a potential time bomb. In the UK about 33 percent of all pregnancies are unplanned and 1 in 5 women in long-term relationships admit to having extra material affairs. These figures are similar for the rest of Europe and North America. It certainly goes someway to understanding the dramatic rise in use of paternity tests. The annual rate more than doubled in America between 1991 and 2001 to 300,000. Additionally in 1999 the American Association of Blood Banks carried out a study and found in 280,000 paternity blood tests, 30 percent of cases proved the man was not the biological father.
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In 2003 just over 3,000 paternity tests after pregnancy were commissioned by Australian men without the knowledge of the mother. In 25 percent of cases it turned out that they were not the biological father. This has led to some high profile cases where women are suing men for paternity fraud because they took the test without their knowledge or consent. Dr Astrid Gesche, of the Queensland University of Technology who has written a book on the matter states that consent from all those involved is important because the result is more than just about clinical information. The results can have a huge impact on children because it says something about their past, and their future. Taking it a step further the National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Law Reform Commission have recommended that the government introduce a law which will allow young people, considered mature enough, to say NO to a paternity test. Currently this is not allowed under family law.
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