Sunday, November 25, 2007

Who's Your Daddy?

As reported by the New York Times, paternity tests are becoming available in drug stores. After reading the article, I have to admit that I'm confused. It seems like the kit is just cotton swabs and plastic jars, both of which you could purchase for less than the suggested retail price of $29.99. Besides which, the samples still need to be sent in to a private company for testing, which would cost around $119, and then you wait for five days for the results. Can someone let me know how that is different from how you would normally get a paternity test?

In any case, the OTC availability is controversial, due to the concern that most people would have trouble understanding the results of a test without a genetic counselor. I would understand that concern if one was testing for the gene mutation that causes breast cancer, but a paternity test seems like a straightforward yes-or-no sort of a thing. When I read the headline, I was much more concerned about the validity of results obtained outside of a lab, but since the samples must be sent to a lab anyway, I guess that resolves that issue. The company that makes the tests did note that the results would not be admissible in court.


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