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June 14, 1995

In Utero Paternity Testing Following Alleged Sexual AssaultA Comparison of DNA-Based Methods

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics (Mss Hammond and Redman and Dr Caskey) and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Dr Caskey), Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Tex. Ms Redman is now with Laboratories for Genetic Services Inc, Houston, which does not perform testing related to paternity cases, but is affiliated with Identigene Inc (a laboratory that evaluates paternity cases). Ms Redman is not employed by, and receives no profit from, Identigene. Dr Caskey is now with Merck & Co Inc, West Point, Pa. Merck & Co Inc does not manufacture genetic diagnostic products. Family members of Dr Caskey are affiliated with a laboratory that conducts testing involving paternity cases.

JAMA. 1995;273(22):1774-1777. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520460056035

Objective.  —To compare DNA typing by both variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods to determine the utility of each for prenatal paternity testing following sexual assault. To consider ethical issues of limiting prenatal paternity studies.

Design.  —Criterion standard.

Setting.  —Prenatal diagnostic clinic after determination of pregnancy following an alleged sexual assault.

Subjects.  —Ten prenatal paternity cases accepted during a 5-year period.

Intervention.  —DNA-based paternity testing.

Main Outcome Measure.  —Inclusion or exclusion of paternity by consensual partner.

Results.  —In all cases DNA typing using the PCR-based method provided the same conclusion as that from VNTR-based data. High probabilities of paternity were reported with both methods.

Conclusions.  —DNA typing with PCR using short tandem repeat loci provides a reliable method for quickly determining paternity in prenatal cases. The ethics of providing paternity testing in the context of sexual assault is discussed. The issue of providing prenatal paternity testing in consensual relationships is considered.(JAMA. 1995;273:1774-1777)