Incidence and Prevention of ‘Non-Paternity Events’

A non-paternity event is a situation whereby the biological father of a child is “someone other than who it is presumed to be”. Typically this involves some form of paternity fraud.

In one of the most gut-wrenching articles I’ve read in months (due to the many human interest stories in the article, no doubt), the surprising incidence of non-paternity events, and remedies for how to combat the situation, are discussed:

The most extensive and authoritative report […] concluded that 2 percent of men with “high paternity confidence” — married men who had every reason to believe they were their children’s father — were, in fact, not biological parents. Several studies indicate that the rate appears to be far higher among unmarried fathers. […]

At a federally convened symposium on the increase in paternity questions, a roomful of child-welfare researchers, legal experts, academics and government administrators agreed that much pain could be avoided if paternity was accurately established in a baby’s first days. Several suggested that DNA paternity tests should be routine at birth, or at least before every paternity acknowledgment is signed and every default order entered.

The same care that hospitals take ensuring that the right mother is connected to the right newborn — footprints, matching ID bands, guarded nurseries, surveillance cameras — should be taken to verify that the right man is deemed father.

via Overcoming Bias (Robin Hanson, suggesting that mandatory paternity testing at birth should be introduced, noting how many birth defects with an incidence of far less than 2% are routinely tested for.)