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Genetic Fingerprinting in Paternity Testing

Numerous reasons exist as to why the paternity test is important. In some situations, some alleged fathers realize much late that certain affair existed that resulted in the birth of a child. These men usually feel that it is their right to know the rightful owner of the child. This necessitates the need for DNA test. In different situations, some men do not trust their wives and suspect them of infidelity. This kind of mistrust makes them think that they may not be the fathers of the child biologically, and DNA test provides a solution to this. In addition, some children are separated from parents at their early age and for a very long period of time. The DNA test becomes crucial in the reunion time of such children to establish conclusively their parentage. The infidelity in a family is sometimes realized after the death of the parent. Consequently, children become very curious to establish their genetic makeup to enable them know the family medical history. More importantly, some single mothers use the DNA test to confirm the real father of their child to enable them get financial assistance (Hepler, 2010).

Types of Paternity Testing

The DNA test to establish the rightful parent of a child can be performed either before the child is born or after the birth of the child. This leads to two types of paternity testing, namely postnatal DNA testing and the prenatal DNA testing. In the postnatal testing, two methods are applicable in testing the parentage of a child after it is born (Kirby, 1990). One is the blood collection and testing. In this method, a drop of blood is collected from both the child and the alleged father, and the similarity of the DNA is tested in the laboratory. The other method is the umbilical cord collection and testing. The other type of paternity testing is the prenatal DNA testing. This is the test carried out before the child is born. Under prenatal DNA testing, three methods are applicable. The first one is the amniocentesis test that is performed between the 14th and 20th weeks of pregnancy (Hepler, 2010). The doctor makes use of ultrasound that usually directs a certain thin needle to the uterus via abdomen. The needle is meant to draw some amount of amniotic fluid that is used for testing. This method is very risky, because it may lead to miscarriage or even harm the child (Belair & search group, 1991). In addition, it may lead to leaking of the amniotic fluid and vaginal bleeding. The second method of prenatal DNA testing is the Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) that can be done from the 10th to 13th weeks of pregnancy. The test involves a thin needle that is entered from the vagina via the cervix. The thin needle is directed by the ultrasound to obtain chorionic villi. These are pieces of tissues that look like fingers and are usually embedded on the walls of the uterus. The fetus and the chorionic villi have the same genetic makeup, because they both come from the same ovum. The third method of prenatal DNA testing is SNP microarray. This method does not involve insertion of the needle into the mother’s body but rather analyzing the child’s DNA that is found in the mother’s bloodstream. The test has been found to be 99.9% effective (Belair & search group, 1991).

The Common Method of Collecting DNA Samples

The very common method of collecting DNA sample especially in postnatal situation is the use of buccal swabs. This process of collection of the sample to use for the paternity test is simple and does not cause any pain. As stated above, the number of cells in a drop of blood or even the root of hair is enough for DNA test. Many companies and hospitals in the recent past are using buccal swabs with the reason that DNA is contained in all cells in the body. The buccal swab is rubbed inside the cheek of the mouth (Campbell et al, 2004). The buccal swabs are then placed on the certain container and returned to the laboratory. The two samples from both alleged parent and the child are taken to the laboratory for testing using a technology known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR). During the testing, protein and other items found in the cell are removed to get pure DNA. The location of each specific sample DNA is established, and the two readings from chromosome are recorded (Cooper, 2008). The reading for each DNA location is tested, and the results are compared. The real parent of the child is established with a lot of ease. However, if the alleged parents are twins, it becomes difficult to determine the biological father, because the twins have identical DNA characteristics (Kirby, 1990).

DNA test has been of great use in the forensic science. Forensic science is the application of science and technological knowledge to specific cases aiming at providing legal bodies with substantial evidence of each case (Pena, 1993). Forensic science experts believe that a criminal must bring something to the scene and must leave something in the same scene. What is left behind by the criminal is what the forensic science experts analyze to bring evidence on bound. The DNA test is used in many incidences of homicide, rape, and other sexual assault. Forensic establish DNA in semen, saliva, blood, skin or even hair that might be left in the scene. In forensic science, DNA samples from the scene are collected by designing small probes .The series of DNA profiles enhances the creation of different patterns that allow distinction of different DNA strands (Pena, 1993).

Technologies used in Forensic Science Investigation

Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP)

The technology analyzes the different lengths of DNA fragments that are created from the digestion of the DNA sample with a certain kind of enzymes. This enzyme divides DNA   at certain sequence referred to as the restriction endonuclease recognition site. When recognition sites are present or absent from certain DNA sample, it leads to the creation of DNA fragments of different lengths (Campbell et al, 2004). These DNA fragments are separated from each other by gel electrophoresis and raised values by the DNA probes. The segments are separated, and a visual representation is done using autoradiography. The technique requires a high amount of DNA, and most of its samples that are affected by mold and dirt do not work effectively.  RFLP was the first technique to be used in forensic science investigation, and other new and more sophisticated and accurate methods have been adopted. The other method is the use of the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis (Cooper, 2008). The PCR is able to make multiple copies of DNA from the sample enabling analysis of few skin cells. In addition, the ability of PCR to amplify the DNA sample allows highly degraded samples to be tested. However, keen identification, collection, and preservation of the sample are required to avoid mixing with other materials. In the recent past, suspects of a certain crime are required to provide sample of their DNA to the database. This has helped in resolving problems where the sample of the DNA could only be obtained from the scene.

In conclusion, genetic fingerprinting has been of great use especially in trying to provide evidence of certain criminal act. This method of genetic fingerprinting is the most advanced way to establish living organism (Campbell et al, 2004). The DNA that is left in the crime act cannot be changed nor deposited with mummy. This enables the methods of using DNA to get evidence of certain criminal act to be very effective. The use of DNA remains the best and the most accurate way to identify a person. Many family issues concerning the identity of a child have been easily solved by DNA testing. However, the use of DNA testing has some challenges especially in the preservation of the sample, but proper progress is being made to improve the effectiveness of the method (Fridell, 2007).

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