Paternity test stats show a dramatic rise in the number of individuals seeking DNA paternity testing. This new trend, along with the increased attention on paternity provided by celebrity scandals, leads to the question: How many people really need a DNA paternity test?
30% of Men: Not the Father?A quick online search gives frighteningly alarming figures; many articles claim that as many as 30% of men are unknowingly raising another man’s child. This would mean that out of a class of 60 students, 20 of them are growing up calling the wrong man dad.
Where did this 30% figure come from?This is an often misunderstood statistic provided by some paternity test labs regarding the percentage paternity tests with a ‘not the father’ result. Most paternity test labs report that about 1/3 of their paternity tests have a ‘negative’ result. Of all the possible fathers who take a paternity test, about 32% are not the biological father. But remember, this is 1/3 of men who have a reason to take a paternity test - not 1/3 of all men. That is a huge difference!
What is the Real Non-Paternity Rate?To determine a true non-paternity rate, scientists usually turn to various studies of children with genetic disorders. In these studies a large number of children are screened for genetic disorders, like Tay-Sachs disease or cystic fibrosis, in which the child must inherit a copy of the defective gene from both parents to show the disease. In a June 2010 article in the LA times, biology professor Marlene Zuck says:
“When large numbers of families are surveyed for such research, a certain proportion of fathers turn out not to have the gene that their purported child inherited, thus yielding the [non-paternity] figures of 1% to 3.7%. Higher numbers, particularly the often-cited 10%, seem to come from more biased samples, or, more likely, simply turn out to be an urban legend, akin to cell phones being able to pop popcorn.”With all the media attention on DNA paternity testing and celebrity paternity tests, non-paternity rates are easily sensationalized. However, it seems that we as a society are truly more monogamous than daytime talk shows might make it appear.