According to a study from Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, up to 1 in 25 fathers is unknowingly raising another man’s child.
The research, reported in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, is drawn from studies of men and women wanting proof of paternity from testing as well as studies based on genetic health screening. The researchers in Liverpool found that rates of cases where a man was not the biological father of his child ranged from 1per cent in some studies to as much as 30 percent.
Experts generally believe the number of men unknowingly bringing up a child they believe to be their own is below ten per cent. A rate of four percent would mean one in 25 families.
The Liverpool research headed by Professor Mark Bellis, looked at data from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia, South Africa, South America, Mexico and New Zealand. In the United States , the number of paternity tests have increased from 142,000 in 1991 to 310,490 in 2001. In the United Kingdom the estimated number of paternity tests is between 8,900 and 20,000 tests per year.
One in 25 sounds worrying. The range of research findings did show big variations in rates, from one per cent in some studies to nearly 30 per cent. The figures did vary by country and groups; for instance, rates were higher for disadvantaged people, for those with more than one sex partner at a time, and for younger women. Paternal discrepancy could stem from infidelity or it could be that a change of partner leads to genuine mistaken paternity.