Proving Maternity with DNA Testing

While paternity testing is well known, did you know that there is also a DNA test available to prove maternity? While maternity DNA tests are requested less frequently than paternity tests, a maternal DNA test may be legally requested if a court ever wants to medically verify a mother for legal reasons. A court could request verification if there has been a hospital mix-up, or in foster care, adoption, or immigration cases.  

A maternal DNA test was requested in Washington state when a woman was accused of falsifying maternity for her three children. Weirdly, the DNA test showed that her deceased twin, who had never been born, was somehow the mother of her children. This was a true DNA mystery — Test Smartly Labs will explain how this DNA phenomenon could have happened.

Proving Maternity with DNA Testing

DNA Testing & Government Assistance

After having two children, coming pregnant with her third, and separating from their father, Lydia Fairchild was a 23-year-old struggling single mother. When she submitted a request for government assistance, she agreed to a DNA test to prove maternity. The separated husband took a test that confirmed his paternity, but Fairchild’s test didn’t confirm her maternity, even though she had naturally conceived and delivered all three children. Washington prosecutors began investigating Fairchild in 2002 for possible welfare fraud and threatened to take away her children.

Chimera DNA

One of Fairchild’s lawyers discovered a New England Journal of Medicine article discussing an extremely rare condition called chimerism. Named after the Chimera from Greek mythology, chimerism is a medical condition where twin embryos merge during pregnancy into one baby. The cells of the absorbed twin do not disappear but absorbed and concentrated in one area of their sibling’s body. This means that one body can contain two distinct sets of genetics. In the Fairchild case, the defendant had DNA from her unborn twin that was clustered in her ovaries, making the twin the biological mother of Fairchild’s three children. This is an extreme medical rarity with only 30 known cases worldwide, and it explains why the maternity test could not confirm that Fairchild was the mother of her children.

DNA Test Finally Links Fairchild to Her Children

The state conducted a DNA test between Fairchild’s mother and Fairchild’s children and was able to prove a genetic connection that way. Even though the state couldn’t prove maternity through Fairchild, they were able to show chimerism through subsequent DNA tests and a cervical smear. Doctors eventually discovered DNA of Fairchild’s lost twin in her ovaries. The state dropped its fraud accusations against Fairchild and she retained custody of her three children.

Whether you’re trying to solve a medical mystery, settle a legal action, or just want more details about your ancestry, Test Smartly Labs can provide answers for all your genetics questions.

Test Smartly Labs provides accurate, confidential DNA tests. To learn more about our DNA Testing Services, contact Test Smartly Labs today at (816) 800-9699. We have five lab locations in the greater Kansas City area!

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