Almost half of UK men who take a paternity test turn out not to be the real father, research undertaken by DNA Clinics shows.
We analysed the results of 5,000 tests selected randomly from those conducted for clients between January 2014 and June 2016.
The results show 48 per cent or 2,396 of UK men tested were not the biological father. Fifty-two per cent, or 2,604, of those tested were proven to be the father.
The highest proportion of men ruled out as the biological father was in southern England, where 59 per cent fell into this category.
Wales too showed nearly six out of 10 – 57 per cent – were excluded as the biological father.
For England as a whole, 51 per cent were ruled out. In Northern Ireland, 42 per cent were ruled out while in Scotland the figure was 39 per cent.
The tests were carried out in cases where there was doubt about the identity of the child’s father. They were done for personal information reasons, rather than for legal purposes.
They included the case of a woman who slept with two men on the same night and became pregnant. Another involved a woman who had a one-night stand with a close friend, without her fiancé’s knowledge.
Others featured a woman whose boyfriend was in prison when she discovered she was pregnant, and a man who thought he was unable to father children and found out his wife was expecting. He was proven to be the baby’s dad.
Nichola McChrystal, founder and scientific director at DNA Clinics, said: “The statistics are within the realms of what I would expect, due to the fact that I have worked in this industry for well over a decade. I would imagine that they would appear shocking to the general public.
“However, it is important to understand that the families approaching DNA Clinics for answers generally have good reasons for raising the question of paternity.
“The statistics should not be considered as a representation of similar matters for the general public as a whole.”
DNA Clinics offers home testing kits as well as through a nationwide network of clinics. Retail chain Boots has recently begun selling DNA Clinics’ kits online.
DNA samples are collected via mouth swabs from one father, one mother and one child, and are analysed in fully-accredited laboratories.
In each case, at least 20 DNA markers are analysed to provide DNA profiles for each test participant. The DNA profiles of the mother and alleged father are then compared to that of the child. If there is no match with the father, he is excluded as the biological father.
Nichola said: “The general public’s knowledge about DNA has changed dramatically over the past five years. It is now understood that the DNA tests are not only possible, but also commonplace.
“There is also greater knowledge about genetic inheritance and its impact on health conditions that appear throughout the generations of a family.
“More and more tests are being organised by the mother rather than the doubting father.
“There’s also been a marked increase in the number of tests being organised by older people looking for answers to questions, rumours and doubts that have plagued their families for years.
“These cases are testament to the fact that establishing paternity when a child is young is the best course of action.
“Unfortunately, however, some family secrets are only revealed when parents have passed away, and the results of subsequent tests can have a devastating effect.
“Now that people feel more comfortable about seeking a paternity test, they are predominantly choosing to establish the biological father of a child at an early age. This helps prevent the significant emotional and medical implications that a child may later face, should the issue be not addressed.”
Nichola added: “We recommend that people book an appointment at one of our testing clinics to access the best available support, including counselling.
“However, buying a kit through a highly-reputable retailer such as Boots is a very good alternative for those who prefer the convenience of self-collection of samples.
“The online paternity test kit market has seen substantial growth during 2016, as the public becomes more aware about genetic science and shows increasing confidence in the technology.
“The market does require reputable and appropriate sales channels, which is why we have chosen to partner with Boots, as it is a trusted and ethical supplier of medical and scientific goods.
“We have enormous experience in providing telephone support from fully-trained clinical advisers, and our tests are backed by internationally-accredited standards covering quality, information security and environmental management systems.
“Our clients can be confident that their personal data and test results are handled and stored to industry-leading standards.”