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Paternity testing has higher demand, more options

Parents in New Orleans and throughout the country sometimes wonder whether or not the father listed on a birth certificate is truly the biological relative of the child named. Because of this demand, one 42-year-old man took his DNA clinic and revamped it, turning it into a mobile paternity testing center. The clinic has given many parents answers to their doubts and questions already, but some experts believe that the mobile testing center is a cause for worry.

The 28-foot recreational vehicle began serving the streets of New York City several months ago. A technician is onboard the RV while it is on the streets and pedestrians can hail the vehicle down to have their DNA taken and sent to a lab. That lab is in Ohio and test results are returned within three to five business days.

Prescriptions are necessary to have a test performed and can be faxed from a doctor's office directly to the mobile lab if a person does not have the prescription on them. As a result of the mobile DNA testing center, some people have discovered that children they did not believe to be theirs actually were. Others have found out that they were related by a parent that either did not tell them or did not know that half-siblings existed.

The director of one DNA testing laboratory says that the demand for such examinations has been escalating in recent years, largely due to the statistical rise in the number of children born to unmarried women.

According to the former American Association of Blood Banks, now known as the AABB, more than 382,000 relationship tests were conducted in the U.S. during 2010. The group believes that the number is even higher than that because many labs do not report their numbers. Some estimate that the number of tests done is nearly 500,000 a year currently.

Paternity determination can be a hugely sensitive issue. Sometimes the process can become contentious for everyone involved. But with sensitivity, and the help of experienced legal help, the issues can be worked out for the greatest benefit of the parents and affected child.

Source: Reuters, "FEATURE-Who's your daddy? DNA clinic gives answers, sparks concerns," Lily Kuo, Aug. 23, 2012

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