DNA Mysteries: DNA Testing & Proof of Maternity

Though you’ve undoubtedly heard of DNA testing to prove someone’s paternity, are you aware that there is also maternity DNA testing?

Used less frequently than more well-known paternity testing, a maternal DNA test can provide medical verification of maternity when legal issues call for it, such as in the case of hospital mix-ups, foster care or adoptions, or during immigration cases.Maternal DNA testing took center stage when a Washington state woman was accused of falsifying maternity for her three children. In a strange turn of events, the DNA testing revealed that her deceased twin — who was actually never born — was somehow the mother of her children.Welcome to the first of our DNA mysteries —  read on to see how DNA testing cracked the case.

DNA Testing & Twin Maternity

DNA Testing & Government Assistance

After having two children, conceiving a third, and separating from their father, Lydia Fairchild was a 23-year-old struggling single mother. As a part of her application for government assistance, she submitted to a DNA testing to prove her maternity. The father of her children also took a paternity test which confirmed him as the biological parent of the three kids — but despite the fact that she had naturally conceived and birthed the children, Fairchild’s test did not confirm her maternity. In 2002, Washington state prosecutors began investigating Fairchild for possible welfare fraud, threatening to take away her children.


Lee's Summit | DNA Mysteries: DNA Testing & Proof of MaternityLuckily, one of the prosecutors assigned to Fairchild’s case came upon a New England Journal of Medicine article explaining an extremely rare condition called chimerism. Named after the mythical Greek creature the Chimera, chimerism is a medical condition in which individuals who start out as twins actually merge at some point during the pregnancy. Rather than disappearing altogether, the cells of the absorbed twin are concentrated in an area of their sibling’s body, meaning that one body can contain two distinct sets of genetic materials. In Fairchild’s case, her former twin’s DNA was clustered in her ovaries, making the unborn twin — not Fairchild — the biological mother of Fairchild’s three children. This medical rarity — with only 30 known cases worldwide — explained why DNA testing could not confirm Fairchild’s maternity.

Mystery Solved: DNA Testing Links Fairchild to Her Children

Although DNA testing could not fully confirm the maternal relationship between Fairchild and her children, the state did conduct a maternal DNA test that linked Fairchild’s own mother to her children, proving a genetic connection. It was only through a cervical smear and subsequent DNA testing that doctors confirmed Fairchild’s chimerism and discovered the lost twin’s DNA residing in Fairchild’s ovaries. The fraud charges against Fairchild were dropped and she retained custody of her three children.

Need DNA Testing in Lee’s Summit? Come to Test Smartly Labs

Whether you have a medical mystery to solve, legal action to settle, or just simply want more details about your ancestry, Test Smartly Labs of Lee’s Summit offers relationship DNA testing that can give you the answers you seek.

To get started on your DNA testing at our walk-in facility, call Test Smartly Labs of Lee’s Summit today at (816) 875-9301.

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