DNA Paternity Testing in Kenya: Everything you need to know (Updated 2024)

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DNA Paternity testing is the use of DNA profiles to determine whether an individual is the biological parent of another. It’s the most reliable method of paternity testing, with accuracy typically above 99.99%
Paternity testing has been on the increase in Kenya, and in this article we’ll dive into details of the science behind it.

All human beings (the 7 billion of us) like all life forms, contain the genetic code. The genetic code contains the instructions that define all aspects of the organism.  For example, the colour of your eyes, skin, body build are all determined by our genes.

Male fertility test - DNA

This genetic material is in the form of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and is contained within the cell’s nucleus. All somatic cells in the body have identical DNA. 99.9% of our DNA is identical to one another. It’s the 0.1% difference that we exploit in identity testing, of which paternity testing is part of the sample used depending on the specific circumstances eg postmortem, body remains, routine   DNA from the child, mother, and alleged father(s) are extracted, amplified and identified.

Half of the genetic material (alleles) comes from each of our parents. During fertilization, the ovum and sperm contribute half of the genetic material that combines in the zygote and develops into a fetus. The 0.1%  of unique sequences are transmitted from the parents to their offspring. Analyzing these unique DNA sequences  (called Short Tandem Repeats -STRs) in the mother or father, and comparing them to the child. Depending on the match, we can conclude with a high degree of accuracy whether the child is related to the mother /father. In the case of paternity, the alleged father or father’s DNA is analysed. The highly conserved STR sequences that are identical in both the father and child mean they could only have been inherited from that father. 

Based on the distribution of the specific sequences in the population, the probability a random man could have been the father is computed against the alleged father(s). The result is expressed as a percentage and often is above 99.999% when the alleged father is the biological father

Let’s assume a child has a 10 & 11 allele for particular genetic loci. The mother is known to possess a 10 and 12. The mother must have contributed the 10 and 11 must be from the father. Any man who does not possess an 11 allele for this particular locus is excluded as a father. For the man not to be ruled out, the likelihood a randomly chosen man might provide the same allele to the child is determined by examining the allelic frequencies from relevant population  databases

An obligate paternal allele refers to an allele the actual father must have because it’s in the child and the only parent who would have contributed it is the father. 

Compare the child to the mom, The allele the mother doesn’t have is the obligate paternal allele. Increasing the number of loci examined –higher chances of finding unique alleles.

PI compares the likelihood that an alleged father passed an allele to the possibility that a randomly selected man of a similar ethnic background could pass the allele to the child.

PI=xy=chance AF could transmit obligate allele, Chance another man of the same race transmitted the allele

X= assigned value of 1 if the alleged father is homozygous for the allele & 0.5 if heterozygous. The larger the ratio, the more likely the man is the biological father.

When multiple alleles are tested, a PI is calculated for each. Since alleles are inherited independently, a product of the PIs gives a Combined Paternity Index(CPI). CPI is an odds Ratio indicating how many more times the AF is the biological father than randomly selected unrelated men of similar ethnicity. Most Laboratories in Kenya test up to 15 different loci to increase the accuracy of the paternity testing.

The CPI is therefore a measure of the strength of genetic evidence of paternity.

Theoretical range of CPI is 0 -∞ (zero to Infinity)

  1. CPI = 1 – No information
  2. CPI< 1 Genetic evidence more consistent with non-paternity
  3. CPI> 1 Genetic evidence supports the assertion that the tested man is the father.

The measure of the belief in the hypothesis tested man is the biological father. The correct probability is based on ALL the evidence of the case i.e,

  • Non-genetic evidence
  • Mothers Testimony
  • Tested Man testimony
  • Other Witnesses

Genetic evidence comes from DNA testing.

An assumption is made prior to testing the probability the AF is the true biological father. Prior probability of paternity is the strength of one’s belief the AF is the biological father based on non-genetic evidence. Typically PP= 0.5 is used assuming it’s a neutral unbiased value.

To convert genetic evidence to a probability of paternity, the Bayesian theorem is used. CPI and Prior Probability (PP) are used. 

 W=(CPI×PP)(CPI ×PP+1-PP)

When the prior probability of 0.5 is used, our probability of paternity becomes:

W=(CPI×0.5)(CPI ×0.5+1-0.5)=CPI(CPI+1)

Suppose a defendant presents a powerful testimony e.g. mother is unreliable and has been caught telling lies before or he’s a prominent person and therefore a subject of blackmail. So we take his word for it and reduce the Prior Probability to a figure say 1/500 i.e 0.02

From the formula W= 99.5% at PP= 0.02 and 99.92% if we assume pp=0.5. This leads us to virtually the same verdict, the tested man is probably the biological father.

Put another way, the alleged father may have his say in court BUT it’s unlikely whatever he says will be significant compared to the force of DNA evidence!

There are three main outcomes of paternity testing.

  1. Inclusion

The results indicated the tested man could be the child’s father. This is when the value of W above is 99% and above. In a typical result, this will indicate the results are conclusive the tested man is the father.

  1. Exclusion

The results concluded the tested man could not possibly be the child’s father. The results are typically W value of zero.

  1. Indeterminate

Results from genetic testing were inconclusive and could not determine if the tested man is the biological father. This occurs when the probability of paternity falls below >0% and 99%. In such cases, additional testing is required to establish paternity.

The cost varies from Kes, 25,000 to as much as 50,000.  This variation may be accounted by the type of laboratory. Public laboratories like KEMRI  are cheaper compared to private laboratories. The number of alleles tested as well as whether the mother is also tested affects the final price as well.

Despite its accuracy, genetic testing is not perfect. Here are some situations where results may be inconclusive.

  1. Consanguinity. This is when the two parents are genetically close relatives.
  2. Identical Twins – This is obvious, that if the alleged fathers are identical twins, they possess identical genetic material, and are therefore impossible to tell them apart.
  3. Unavailable mother’s genetic profile. If the mother’s DNA was not analysed for whatever reason, it makes it harder to identify the paternal alleles and make the conclusion.
  4. Random mutations – Extremely rare, though theoretically can complicate analysis.

This brings us to the end of this discussion. I hope this will help you in understanding the process and results of paternity testing.

To help you decide on the best lab for paternity testing within Kenya and beyond, costs, and interpretation of results, get in touch with us for unbiased advice. As always, you can rely on us for top-notch confidentiality. Please leave your comment below or hit me up on our email at hello@labtestzote.com.

If the results of paternity testing are to be used in a legal process like a paternity lawsuit, the testing process is more stringent

  1. Consent- All involved parties must consent or if court-mandated, then this documentation has to be produced.
  2. The chain of custody has to be maintained
  3. Sample collection must be done in the laboratory by a trained professional – Self-collected samples are not admissible.
  4. The results have to be notarised by an advocate.
  5. The results can be disclosed lawfully to other parties e.g lawyers or presented as evidence in a court of law.

Wrap-Up – DNA Paternity Test

We hope this post has provided you with the basic knowledge of why, how and where paternity testing is done in Kenya.

If you need this service, be sure to contact us on 0711 902565 for further guidance.

Hungry for More? Check out additional resources on DNA paternity testing in Kenya below

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