One in 25 'fathers' raises another man's child

An outbreak of male paranoia is guaranteed today with the finding that one in 25 fathers may be unknowingly raising a child who is not his own.

A review of studies of DNA profiling, the ultimate proof of a genetic relationship, shows that the rate of "paternal discrepancy" - where the man tested is not the actual biological father of the child - ranges from 1 per cent to 30 per cent.

Researchers from the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University say the average rate is 3.7 per cent, equivalent to almost one in 25 who discover they are not the true fathers of the children they call their own.

The revelation can be devastating for families but the implications have not been understood, say the authors of the study, in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. In the UK, about a third of pregnancies are unplanned and one in five women in long-term relationships has had an affair.

The total number of families affected will be much higher than one in 25, the researchers say, because for every "false" father identified through testing there will be a true biological father elsewhere, possibly with a family of his own.

The use of DNA testing is increasing rapidly and the judicial and health systems are reliant on it for procedures such as organ donation and criminal identification. In some cases, such as identifying disaster victims, DNA tests have unwittingly revealed some with a different biological identity from the one suggested by their credit cards, clothes and personal possessions, adding to the distress of surviving relatives.

Professor Mark Bellis, chief author of the study, said: "We know infidelity breaks up families. Twenty per cent of divorces feature claims of infidelity by one or both partners. There are issues about the mental health of the father, or the person who thought he was the father, as well as the woman and the child.

"More and more people are taking these tests and they may receive some of the most fundamental information about themselves and their closest relatives for which they are unprepared. We have not looked at the consequences of giving this information, or withholding it."

The impact of paternity testing was brought home during the public break-up of the relationship between the former home secretary David Blunkett and his former lover Kimberly Quinn after he demanded access to the child whom testing proved he had fathered.

Several soap operas, including the now defunct Liverpool series Brookside, have featured plotlines about disputed paternity and the Human Genetics Commission has expressed concern after the results of paternity tests were broadcast live on ITV's Trisha show.

DNA testing can be done using a hair follicle or mouth scrapings, and is available by post from commercial agencies. Some countries are considering outlawing the genetic testing of children without the consent of both partners.

'I knew he wasn't my son'

Ian Gould proved he was not the father of his estranged lover's son - after 13 years of paying maintenance. He was named in a paternity claim in the 1980s before DNA tests were available, and had the same blood group as the child, which gave him a 35 per cent chance of being the father.

After paying out £8,000 for the son he had no contact with, the CSA demanded in 1994 that he increase weekly payments from £12 to £85. He refused, insisting he was not the father. A DNA test proved they were not related. The CSA refunded cash paid since 1994 but not payments made before then.

Mr Gould said: "I knew in my heart that Craig wasn't my son. It has been heart-rending at times. When he was 11 he came to our door and said he wanted to get to know me. His mum had drummed it into him that we were father and son."

He added: "The CSA just wouldn't listen."

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst/ Project Manager - Financial Services

    £60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...

    Reception Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Reception Teacher - Daily SupplyRandst...

    Cover Supervisors needed in Cheshire & Shropshire

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Supervisor...

    Welsh Medium Teacher

    £85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits