Monday, February 22, 2010

Tiger's a cheater... I bet you are too.

Infidelity is once again all over the news. Tiger has given his formal apology. He follows Kobe, and before him Clinton. I've been away from the blog for a few days. Busy working on our upcoming infidelity site: That's SHE cheated.
Are you wondering about all the cheating men out there?! Well believe it or not, it's only the men who tend to need the proof. The ladies don't seem as concerned with concrete evidence, likely because they are much more emotional creatures and once she feels like she's been cheated on then that's enough. Not the guys... they need proof. That's where shecheated will come in.

I've already blogged about what DNA infidelity testing is, here.  Instead, I'd like to discuss all the other options. Namely the other testing options and why they just aren't good enough.

Option one - read a list. Lists about cheating read like a top ten list of things that can go wrong in relationships. If you find yourself answering yes to all of them then she probably is cheating, and why aren't you too? If things have really gotten that bad then you'll likely need couples therapy. STAT!

Option two - Buy MY Book! It's incredible how many men (and some women) are cashing in on their misfortunate experience of being cheated on. Literally cashing in. They've all written books about how to avoid a cheating girlfriend. How to recognize the signs, and of course they each have their own list. Lucky for you each thing on their list is has an entire chapter dedicated to it. Good luck finding proof that YOUR girlfriend or wife is cheating in a book.

Option three - SPY. That's right Sherlock get out your pocket book, because you're either going to have to buy some expensive high tech equipment or hire a private investigator who has his own high tech equipment. If you want to buy equipment here's a great place to do it: Spy Headquarters.

Option four - Buy a kit online. I'm not going to give you the names or websites for these kits. Because they are crap. Think of it this way, would your doctor just take your word for it that you or your lady is pregnant? NO. Let's not deny that the at home pregnancy tests are useful, but no one trusts them for a final answer. With the future of your relationship, sometimes the future of your marriage riding on the results of the at home infidelity test it might be important to mention that these tests are generally as useful for detecting pee, as they are for detecting semen. The makers won't tell you that though. What they also won't tell you is how to use them. That's right, once you buy it you're on your own. The instructions seem to have been written by the same guy who answers the phone when your computer won't work. He's not exactly fluent in English. Of course we'd like to believe that if you need help you can just call the company you bought the kit from. They're happy to answer the phone if you wan't to buy more kits, but if you have questions then someone will get back to you. Later... much later... maybe never.

The moral of this mystery? Relationships are messy. If you think you're being cheated on don't waste your time with lists, books, expensive private investigators or urine kits. (Which by the way can detect cat pee too! - useful huh.) Get real proof. Use DNA.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

You're not a man. You don't have a Y Chromosome.

DNA testing for identification such as paternity, relationship, ancestry, infidelity etc. involves the use of 16 genetic markers. One of those markers is amelogenin, which is actually a functioning gene. In identification testing amel is used as a quality control. It is used to determine the gender of the person who submitted the sample. On the paperwork that is sent with DNA samples the gender of all participants is listed. Alleged father's are assumed to be men. But sometimes the test results indicate otherwise.

One such test involved a man who really didn't want to be the father of a female child. When the samples were analyzed the mother, the child and the father all resulted in XX. (Women are XX, and men are XY.) After some careful detective work we determined that the man had fraudulently had his new girlfriend send her DNA rather than his. But, what if a man really didn't have a Y chromosome?

What if the laboratory said: We can't list your gender on our final report because you don't seem to have a Y chromosome. Which means, you might not be a man. (not really) While there is a very small possibility that you are an XX male. (more about XX males below) It's more likely that you have a small mutation on your Y chromosome that makes it difficult to analyze. To understand we'll have to look at how DNA testing is conducted.

Using a method called PCR, specific pieces of your DNA are cut from the rest and studied. Those places are called markers.

Imagine we have three maps of the world. On each map there is a dot for New York City. On the first map the dot is blue,      on the second it's black and      on the third it's red.          If we apply this to DNA: NY city (marker) exists on each map, but they are different. At the NY city marker your DNA is blue. Mine is black and her's is red. 
In order to find your color we have to be able to see it on the map. To see it, scientists use special chemicals called primers that find your NY city and look at it. The primers find your NY city by looking for a specific sequence and attaching themselves to it. To attach to it, primer's have to match it.
Your DNA:           NY_CITY
Primer DNA:         NY_CITY
Some people's DNA can be 'broken' and the primer can't find it. Broken DNA might look like this:

Your DNA:           NY_ZITY
Primer DNA:         NY_CITY
Scientists would have no data for you at the NY City Maker. At your NY City there would be no dot. This kind of broken DNA is called a primer binding site mutation. If a man had a primer binding site mutation at the marker used for gender it might appear that he didn't have a Y chromosome. Thankfully there are other tests that can be run to confirm that the Y chromosome is present.
However, if those other tests were run and it appeared that he still didn't have a Y chromosome then it may be possible that he has an incredibly rare disorder called XX Male syndrome. I just ran across this journal article about an XX Man. This man is not able to have children and it is likely that other men with the same syndrome would also be infertile. 

There are many types of mutations that can be found while testing DNA for identification. None of which is an indication that you or your children will have health problems. If you are concerned that you may have genetic diseases, send me an email I can refer you to a genetic counselor. I'm not a doctor, not a therapist or any other kind of genetic specialist. But I'm happy to help you find one. Call Christie at 602-492-4362, or contact iTestDNA here. 

Here are some other interesting oddities a paternity test might result in: 

  • Your mother isn't really your mother. But it's ok because we found your father.
  • Our records indicate you are also the father of 3 other children.
  • You are a mutant, but not the cool Xmen kind.
  • Your not the dad, but some related to you probably is.

I'll be blogging about them in the coming days.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Can I get a paternity test before my baby is born?

Prenatal Paternity involves testing the DNA of an unborn child before a woman gives birth. The first thing to know is that it involves a risky procedure that only a doctor can perform. The doctor collects fetal cells, and sends them to the laboratory to be tested. Doctor's obtain the DNA via amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, CVS. Then the mother's DNA, the babies DNA and the DNA from the alleged father is compared in the standard paternity procedure. 


Most women seeking a prenatal paternity test find themselves too young to obtain a CVS or amnio. Most doctors will not perform those tests unless they are deemed medically necessary. Amnio and CVS are deemed necessary when a woman is over the age of 35 or has a history of genetic illness in her family. An amnio or CVS is performed and samples are sent to medical genetics laboratories for testing. It is estimated that 1 in 100 procedures performed lead to complications.Such, complications include miscarriage. 

When a woman calls us seeking a test we ask a series of questions. Depending on their answers we can help them, or we have to ask them to consult their doctor and call us back. Here are those initial questions.

1. What is her age? 
If she is under the age of 35 we ask if she is aware of what an amnio or CVS is. Is she aware of the risk associated with these procedures? 

2. How does she intend to pay for the amnio or CVS? 
Is she aware that our fees do not cover those procedures and what they cost. If a doctor has not scheduled an amnio or CVS for another reason she will have to pay for those costs out of pocket. They range from $4000 to $9000. DNA testing fees are in addition to those fees.

3. Can she put us in contact with her doctor?
We will need to coordinate collection and delivery of DNA samples from the procedure to the laboratory.

While prenatal paternity testing is an option, it is not one to be taken lightly. Recent studies suggest that the outcome of results occasionally leads to abortion. For that reason alone, may doctors refuse to participate in the procedure. 

There are other tests on the market suggesting that prenatal testing can be done using only the mother's blood. iTestDNA is currently not offering that testing but we are looking into the possibility of doing so. 

101 Historic Paternity & DNA Stories


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Can't have a baby? Rent a womb in India.

Surrogacy has been all over the news lately thanks to a woman in Michigan who was paid to be a surrogate and ended up keeping the babies (twins). Her name is Shelly Baker. The most surprising part of the story is that Shelly is not even biologically related to the children. Shelly only carried the children, her eggs were not used in the 'creation' of the babies. Scott and Amy Kehoe paid for all of the medical costs including the eggs and sperm from donors and are not biologically related to the children either. In Michigan the laws surrounding surrogacy are very weak and since Shelly Baker carried the children her connection to them trumps the monetary connection that the Kehoe's have. Kehoe Baker surrogacy story here.

This type of situation, while rare is occurring more and more often. Consider the case of Joe and John. Joe and John are married because in their state gay marriage is legal. Joe and John believe that the next logical step after marriage is to have a child together. Unfortunately for Joe and John neither of them is able to become pregnant. (Science isn't there yet... I'll update the blog when it is!) Joe and John have rented a womb. Womb For Rent Story Here. A woman in India is pregnant with their children. She is carrying two babies. Joe and John are hoping that one belongs to each of them, as they both donated sperm. Currently there is a huge market for surrogacy in India. The laws surrounding surrogacy are well written and in the favor of the parents paying for the procedures. The fees are much lower than one finds in the United States and since the laws are favorable many straight and gay Americans are opting to fulfill their dreams of parenthood in India. Since the children are born abroad the United States Department of Homeland Security is requiring DNA testing for the children to obtain passports before they are brought home to the US. 
Joe and John are seeking DNA testing for two reasons. First they want to know which of the children belong to which father. Joe and John are hoping that they have each fathered one child. Second they can prove via a DNA paternity test that they are the biological father's of the babies. The children are then eligible for US passports and citizenship. In order to accomplish this, Joe and John have called on iTestDNA for help. We are wishing them luck. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Paternity Fraud: Kardashian Paternity Test

We all saw this one coming, Kourtney K. (the short sister) who had a baby in December is once again gossip fodder. Here's the US story on the birth.  The latest news is that an aspiring 

model named Michael Girgenti is claiming he could be the father of the baby. He claims he wants to be a part of the child's life. I think he wants to cash in on the Kardashian goldmine. Whatever touches that family turns to gold. Personally I think it's good that a man is doing this, unfortunate for the family, but its proof that men are just as gold digging as women. 
Brings up a great point. Paternity Fraud. 
Scary statistic inserted here: I just spent 10 minutes searching the internet for an appropriate site to link to. I wanted to give some real stats on paternity fraud. I wanted to find a site that explained this phenomenon. Every single site I found was a site selling paternity testing? Not cool.
I did however find a listing on LA County's Child Support site explaining a new law in California that can help you stop paying child support for children that aren't yours. 
Last week I got the opportunity to speak to a man who is being fingered in a paternity suit. The child in this case is 15. He has never received notice of his possible paternity before now. He wasn't present when the child was born, he has never had contact with the child. If he is proven the father it is very likely that he will have to pay child support for this child he has never met. Not only that, he will likely be ordered to pay back support. Some states have laws on how many years of back support that can be levied. Some states will only prosecute for 3-5 years of back support. Other states might ask for all 15 years. Let's look at how much that is: 

$63,000 Shocked? Don't be. The average cost for raising a child until the age of 18 is almost 200,000. Imagine contributing a portion of that amount to a child that isn't yours. There are countless of men out there that do. 

Here's an excerpt from an email I received recently: 

all i want is to know if he is or isn't. i understand that this is mostly a woman issue, trying to get paternity tested, but i have seen more and more that it is becoming a guy issue. men aren't heartless pigs that we are suppose to be. courts are biased towards the mother in almost ever facet, granting custody. i have three friends of mine that are trying to get child support from women because they got custody, and the courts are biased on that as well. There needs to be a rethinking if men in child custody, child support, and having men in the lives of children in general. 

The simple truth is that men need to be careful, one of the easiest ways for a women to get paid for the rest of her life is to finger a man in a paternity suit. In a lot of states she doesn't even need proof. Married? Wife cheated... well since you were married to her at the time she gave birth then you are the dad, and being the dad brings it's friend child support with it. 

Moral of the story... just buy the test! DEMAND THE TEST! Know your rights... and wear a condom! 

Monday, February 1, 2010

There are no American Ancestry Groups... sorry!

In November of 2009 the first American since 1982 won the NY marathon. The winner, Meb Keflezighi also participated in the 2004 Olympics. So, it didn't come as a huge surprise that he should place. It's fantastic that an American won, we should all be proud. Problem is that some people think that Meb is not an American. Unfortunately he didn't have the luxury of being born in American. He moved to the US as a child from Eritrea. He then became a US citizen and has been a citizen for the last 22 years. Doesn't that count? According to DNA, no. But if our litmus tests for being an American is in the DNA then there are only about 1.5% of us who can call ourselves American. That's about 4,300,000 people who call themselves Native American. (more about Native American DNA in an upcoming blog)

So, DNA testing can also tell us our ancestry? That's great because I am adopted and I need to know who my father is. I just send in a sample and you can tell me his name right? Sorry that's not how it works. In fact scientific DNA ancestry testing can really only tell you something about your mother's mother's mother etc. etc. etc. or father's father's father etc. etc. etc. who lived about 10,000 years ago. That's right - 10 thousand years - not a typo. But, I heard that Oprah was able to trace her ancestry to a specific tribe in Africa? And a few days ago I heard that Larry David, the quintessential hollywood jew is about 1/3 Native American. Larry David revealed that information on the new George Lopez's Lopez Tonight. George Lopez says there are only 4 ancestry groups. I am so confused. You should be! First off you are taking scientific advice from Oprah and George Lopez. Why are you doing that? 

The truth is this: currently DNA ancestry testing is pretty good at giving you some clues as to what your ancestral origins might be. I feel awful about writing that sentence, it sounds like a disclaimer... Let me break down for you. 
DNA ancestry testing is pretty good: it's not great. It's limited. DNA is a fantastic tool, it is like a roadmap. Let's say I want to drive from my house to a friend's house in Colorado. There are thousands of ways I could choose to get there. There are so many different roads, and pit stops I could take. DNA ancestry is like choosing the fastest option on google maps. A DNA ancestry test will only give you the one route to your ancestry (Colorado) even though there are thousands that exist. Why? Well, because it's a fairly new science and we need to know a lot more about population genetics before we can start to see those other 999 routes. 
DNA ancestry gives you some clues: Here again we run into the limitations of DNA. These ones however aren't DNAs fault, they are yours. If we were to draw a family tree and go back just 10 generations you have over 1000 ancestors. DNA ancestry testing can only tell you about 10 of the women, and 10 of the men in those 1000. And they are a very specific 10 women. They are your mom, her mom, and her mom... and it goes on. Who they are NOT: your mom and her dad, and his mom and her dad. It's a straight line of women. What about those other 489 ladies? Sorry, DNA can't tell you much about them. 
DNA ancestry tells you what your ancestral origins might be: The most famous ancestry test we know of involves a group of African American's who are the descendants of Thomas Jefferson. Below is a picture of Shanon Lanier, a proven descendant of Thomas Jefferson. He's NOT the white guy. 
While we know that Lanier has what is called a caucasian haplogroup, it's likely that if we do a different kind of DNA ancestry test we'll find that Lanier belongs to the same African tribe as Oprah. Why? Because not every ancestry test is the same. Some are based on your autosomal DNA profile. Those tests provide you with the same profile that is used in paternity testing and then analyze each of your alleles. Other tests tell you your Y chromosome haplogroup and still others will result in your mitochondrial haplogroup. By the way, a LOT of African American men are finding out that they are 'caucasian.' 

Final thoughts: Make sure you understand what you are buying before you dive in and send your swab to just any company. Here are some cool links that I know are legit.