- Non-paternity event
Non-paternity event is a term in genetic genealogy and clinical genetics to describe the case where the biological father of a child is someone other than who it is presumed to be. The presumption may be either on the part of the presumed father or by the physician. Non-paternity may result from a number of different scenarios: it may arise from sperm donation or when the mother had sexual intercourse with a man other than the presumed father. Other than the situation of egg donation, the identity of a child's mother is seldom in doubt. Non-paternity (and non-maternity) may also result from hidden adoptions: that is, when a child is never told he or she was adopted. Where there is uncertainty, then the only definitive diagnosis of non-paternity is from DNA testing.
The discovery of previously unsuspected or undisclosed non-paternity may have both social and medical consequences. Non-paternity that is due to a previously undisclosed extra-marital relationship will have obvious consequences for the marital relationship which it violates. Non-paternity is medically relevant when interpreting the results and utility of genetic screening for hereditary illnesses such as cystic fibrosis.
In genetic genealogy the term NPE is often used in a wider context to indicate a break in the link between the Y-chromosome and the surname. Such a breakage may occur because of illegitimacy (inside or outside of marriage), the use of an alias, or a deliberate change of surname.
Testing for non-paternity
The only definitive test for paternity is DNA testing. Requirements for consent and counselling for DNA testing vary by country.
Rates of non-paternity
The rate of non-paternity is commonly quoted to be around 10%. However, a 2005 scientific review of international published studies of paternal discrepancy found a range in incidence from 0.8% to 30% (median 3.7%), suggesting that the widely quoted figure of 10% of non-paternal events is an overestimate. In situations where disputed parentage was the reason for the paternity testing, there were higher levels; an incidence of 17% to 33% (median of 26.9%). Most at risk of parental discrepancy were those born to younger parents, to unmarried couples and those of lower socio-economic status, or from certain cultural groups.
The rates value varies according to the population studied:
- United Kingdom: 1 to 2% in a sample of 1,678 men.
- Mexico: 9.8% to 13.8% in a sample of 396 children.
- Switzerland: 0.3% to 1.3%.
- United States: A study in Michigan of 1417 white and 523 black children found non-paternity rates of 1.4% and 10.1% respectively. A study of 1748 Hawaiian families with 2839 children reported a non-paternity rate of 2 to 3%.
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