General Health Wednesday November 2, 2011

It's not just celebrities who take DNA tests

As Justin Bieber comes under pressure to take a paternity test, and the world’s tabloids descend, it is worth remembering that DNA tests are not just for snappy headlines or cliffhangers on daytime talk shows. For the majority of people, taking a DNA test is a difficult and private matter, often the final step in an ongoing, potentially distressing dispute. Most people will not have the world’s media on the other end of the phone, waiting to hear the result, but the results still have the potential to change lives.

Celebrity disputes about paternity are often prime candidates for tabloid fodder, and through this lens the process of DNA testing can come to seem like just another part of the show. But DNA testing is not just for the rich, famous or scandalous, and it often comes as a surprise to people just how easy it is to take a DNA test. Technological advances in DNA study have now made it possible for DNA sampling to take place in the home, with the results sent to a laboratory for analysis. Court-approved testing is also more simple than people may realise; additional requirements mean a third-party health professional must take the samples for the test. If an individual has questions or doubts about paternity - or any biological or familial relationship - they should not be put off by the misconception that the process is particularly difficult or time consuming.

In the case of Justin Bieber, the claims of paternity appear to have come from a fan who maintains her three month old baby is a product of a backstage liaison with the then 16 year old popstar. The 20 year old, Mariah Yeater, says there are “no other possible men... that could be the father of this baby”. It is worth noting that Justin Bieber’s legal team have strenuously denied the allegations, telling celebrity news site TMZ that they will vigorously pursue all available legal remedies to defend and protect Justin against these allegations."“ A court hearing is set for later this year, and it is at this stage that a court order to take a paternity test could be made.

What happens if Justin Bieber does have to take a DNA paternity test?

Paternity testing is a simple process that requires a very small sample of DNA, taken from the inner cheeks, from the child and the alleged father. The mother of the child can also supply a DNA sample to strengthen the accuracy of the results. The samples are then processed by a laboratory, where the DNA is extracted from the saliva sample, multiplied and then analysed. A genetic profile of the child and alleged father is created, and then the two are compared. A child will share 50% of their DNA with both their mother and their father, so a comparison of the genetic profiles will provide indisputable evidence of a biological relationship or the lack of one.

To find out more about paternity tests, click here.

Image:DFree / Shutterstock.com

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