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News and insights in the world of DNA and genetics for paternity, immigration and forensics

Archive for February, 2010 Monthly Archives

Regardless of net worth, it is important for all individuals to have a basic estate plan in place.  This can be done with a family attorney or there are many online legal aid sites that can assist you in creating the proper document. Most often the biological children of deceased individuals have inheritance rights, DNA is being used more and more when estates are in question.

In some cases, previously unknown children can appear to claim part of the estate. Or, a greedy or unhappy family members may claim that a beneficiary is not a biological descendant of the deceased person. Depending on the timing of the claim, defending this claim could require exhumation or testing of autopsy specimens, neither of which is a pleasant process and which can be an expensive process.

DNA has emerged as a common tool in modern human identification and has magnificent and unparalleled applications in modern society. The best defense is a strong offense. In many cases proper legal registration of your DNA profile with your estate planner or attorney will help ensure legal and rightful administration of your estate, should the need arise.

The DNA relationship testing market has been growing steadily over the last twenty years.  Prices are decreasing and the easy of testing is increasing. Today, it is projected that the annual number of persons that will participate in some type of paternity or extended relationship test will exceed 1 million. In sharp contrast, it is estimated that less than 200,000 persons were tested in 1988. The increased demand for DNA testing has been fueled by greater public awareness of the power of DNA and the affordability and easy access to testing.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 2007 was a record year for births in the United States, there were 4,315,000 recorded births. Experts think that the increase has to do with a range of factors, including immigrants having more children, professional women delaying pregnancy until their 40s and a larger population of women in their 20s and 30s. These factors, coupled with the fact that 38.5% of all U.S. births in 2006 were from unwed mothers translates into an increasing need for education of families about the importance of knowing ones biological parents.

About DNA

DNA is the map of life and defines the essence of our individuality. Despite the size of the human genome, over 3.2 billion genetic markers, 99.9% of the DNA in all unrelated people in the world is identical. Thus, the vast differences observed in the human race are created from the minute differences in only 0.1% of DNA. An individual’s DNA can contain valuable information to help the lives of present and future generations. Locked in our DNA code are the secrets of our ancestry and medical conditions that scientists are only now beginning to understand.

PATERNITY

It is natural for families to want to know who the biological father of their baby is. Nationwide, approximately 30% of tested men are excluded as the biological father.  That means that 3 out of 10 test comes back as a negative result for paternity. A child has the right to the sense of identity that comes from knowing who both biological parents are. Knowledge of a child’s biological heritage is also very important in understanding future possible health risks. In addition, determining paternity gives a child legal right to receive financial support from the father and to inherit from the father.  This is the same if the mother is unknown.  In an era when adoption is a popular option it is important to remember that more and more people do not know either biological parent.

RELATIONSHIP TESTING

Relationship DNA testing can determine if a long lost brother or sister, grandparent, aunt or uncle is truly related to the family in question. DNA testing can also reveal if twins are identical or fraternal. Modern DNA testing can provide answers for a new world of relationships. Paternity testing can also be performed indirectly by testing relatives of an alleged father.

FORENSIC PATERNITY

If a person is deceased or unavailable for testing which is often the case in the question of estate settlement, forensic DNA testing can be an invaluable tool.  DNA can be found on evidence that is decades old. Common sources of forensic DNA evidence include: fingernail clippings, hair with roots or follicles, chewing gum, used beverage containers, eyeglasses, hats, lickable stamps or envelopes, teeth, post mortem tissue, a toothbrush, or cigarette butt.  The results that can be looked for from each item differs and it is best to contact your laboratory to see what items they recommend. For more infomation on DNA testing and how it can asssit you please contact DNA Identifiers.  Remeber regardless of you net worth it is important to have an estate plan in place and DNA can be an important part of your plan.

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court of California (January 25,2010) ruled 5-2 to authorize the use of “John Doe” DNA arrest warrants. California law, consistent with the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment holds that prosecution for an offense commences when an arrest warrant is issued and “names or describes the defendant with the same degree of particularity required for a complaint.”

In a brief overview DNA.gov discusses the proper preparation of a John Doe DNA Warrant. It states that “if no offender match occurs in cases which statutes of limitation are an issue, consideration may be given, in consultation with the prosecutor to prepare a John Doe warrant. These types of warrants can identify the perpetrator according to his or her DNA profile. The 13 loci profile generated by the crime laboratory should be clearly printed on the face of the warrant”.

In a the case of Paul Eugene Robinson, a man charged with raping a Sacramento woman in 1994 a warrant was issued three days before the 6-year statute of limitation ran out in August of 2000, this warrant describing only the suspect’s DNA profile. That profile was then linked to Robinson through the California Department of Justice Laboratory SDIS system. Mr. Robinson had been convicted on sexual assault charges previously. {JURIST, Sarah Miley}

Supporters of the John Doe DNA indictments say it is a legitimate way to vindicate victims, prevent offenders from escaping justice, and prevent future crimes. Without the start of prosecution, a case cannot be tried once the statute of limitations has run. This means that if a suspect is identified one day beyond the statutory limit, he cannot be tried for the offense.

Critics argue that issuing an arrest warrant based on a DNA profile is a disingenuous device of the prosecution that evades the statute of limitations and infringes on the constitutional rights of the accused. In the dissenting opinion in the Robinson case, Judge Carlos Moreno stated “the warrant did not become effective until a fictitious name is replaced with the suspect’s real name, and at that point the statute of limitations had expired”.

While the John Doe warrant appears to be in place in California there are still many challenges for it to face before it becomes common practice.

Equinome, a company founded on research conducted at University College Dublin, just announced their new test to predict how horses will preform for racing. Testing will cost 1000 Euros per horse tested. Equinome’s test looks at the gene responsible for muscle mass development.

Muscle growth is governed by myostatin, a protein that determines whether an animal has compact muscles tuned for rapid sprints or a leaner body suited for endurance. There are three possible combination at this specific genetic marker. This test is not designed to identify how good a horse is likely to be, but rather what it will be good at.

According to Equinome, the three genetic combination that are possible are C:C, C:T and T:T.  A C:C horse is likely to be a fast, early maturing horse that performs well as a two-year-old, while a C:T horse has a mixture of speed and stamina and is the most versatile in terms of distance, and a T:T horse is best suited to races greater than 1 mile that require stamina.

Horse Genome Project coordinator Ernest Bailey of the University of Kentucky, Lexington stated that breeders have adopted genetic tests for paternity, coat color, and diseases but that performance prediction is new ground.

Equinome – The Speed Gene

For years, pregnant and nursing women have been warned to limit the amount of fish they eat, because many fish species may contain high levels of mercury, which endangers development in newborns and fetuses. Recently, National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, a children’s health group challenged the conventional wisdom, they are advising pregnant women and nursing mothers to eat more fish so as to ensure optimal brain development in their babies.

Fearing mercury contamination, many pregnant women eliminate fish from their diet altogether. Researcher are beginning to show that, that may actually harm newborns. (John McConnico for The New York Times) What’s going on here? Currently, the Food and Drug Administration advises pregnant women to limit their weekly seafood consumption to no more than 12 ounces, or about two servings, per week. In addition they recommend staying away from fish that are meat eating (shark, tuna, etc.) as they tend to have higher levels of mercury.

The newest recommendation comes from the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, a nonprofit group that focuses on childhood health issues. That group’s scientific advisers say that pregnant women and nursing mothers should eat at least 12 ounces of fish per week. Although both recommendations limit the amount of fish that pregnant women can safely eat to about two servings a week, fears of mercury contamination in seafood have prompted many pregnant women to eliminate fish entirely.

And here’s the issue that pregnant women face: an increasing number of studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids, found mainly in fish, are essential to brain development in fetuses and newborns. Earlier this year, a report in The Lancet medical journal, concluded that women who had eaten more than 12 ounces of fish per week during pregnancy produced better developed, more intelligent children. “Advice that limits seafood consumption might reduce the intake of nutrients necessary for optimum neurological development,” wrote scientists from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“The real problem here are the women who are just eliminating fish from their diet,” said Judy Meehan, executive director of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. “Eating 12 ounces is a very safe, smart move, and nobody is disputing that.’’ While none of the research cited in the coalition’s recommendations has been funded by the fish industry, the coalition is using a grant from the National Fisheries Institute, a seafood industry group, to fund an educational campaign.

For women who want the health benefits but worry about mercury and other toxins, the wisest course is to choose fish with the lowest levels of mercury. A recent report in The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that the health benefits are likely greatest from such oily fish as salmon, herring and sardines — which are all generally low in mercury anyway. Among the fish to avoid are shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, all of which may contain high levels of mercury.

I was reading Bedrooms, Backseats and Courtrooms which is available at http://www.dna-testing-paternity.com/ or by clicking the link and it got me to thinking about the aricle by Michael Cole I had read a few months ago…

For many years now we have been hearing about how hard it is to be a single mother. They have to hold down a job, maintain a household IE cook, clean, do laundry etc. They in effect have two very demanding full time jobs.

I think it is outstanding that there are so many programs designed to allow a single mom live with dignity. They have access to free or reduced cost child day care. There is “WIC” Women, Infants, and Children. There are education grants,reduced cost housing, free job training, and the list just goes on.

Google “single moms” and you get 19,500,000 results. Lots of programs geared to the the single mom.

Being a single parent is difficult at best, sometimes it is nearly impossible.

So why is the other side of the coin so often ignored? Where is “MIC” Men, Infants, And Children? Why are single fathers treated like low-life lay abouts if they are desperate and overworked enough to ask for a little assistance? It is no easier for a man to raise his children alone, in fact society often makes it harder.

Single dads are told “Be A man” or “Suck it up”. They are being men. They are raising the children they brought into this world. Yet, it is somehow their fault that the mother of their children could not be bothered to stick around and help raise the kids she conceived.

I recently worked with a man who narrowly escaped jail time because he didn’t want to pay child support to his daughter’s deceased mother. He supplied Michigan’s Friend of the Court with her Death Certificate at least twice that I know of, and yet it still took months to get it cleared up.

Some people will ask ” What right do you have to write this?” or “How dare you!” So here is a small part of my story as a single dad. I’m sorry, but it reads like a bad plot in a soap opera.

In Jan. of 1992 my wife told me she she wasn’t happy and “needed space to find herself” I tried to get her to go to marriage counseling, no way would she go. Let’s work it out ourselves, she said. I was willing to do anything to make her happy.

We lived in So. California and I worked in construction. I would get up at 3:30 AM six days a week to provide for my wife and two kids. As a result of my early schedule and heavy workload I was ready to sleep between 8:30 and 9:00 PM. She told me I needed to stay up longer so we could work it out. I told her anything she wanted I would try.

She pulls out the smallest zip-loc baggie I had ever seen with an off-white powder in it. “What’s that?” “Something to help you stay awake.” Being rather naive I said okay. Out comes a mirror, razor blade, and a straw. She proceeded to show me how to prepare and snort a line of Meth-Amphetamine. Stupid me, I tried it. Over the next few weeks she feed me way more than I could handle. The result? A drug clouded mind that would agree to anything she said.

She got her own apartment in March. In July she took my daughter and moved to New Jersey, 3,000 miles away. My son and daughter hardly know each other. New discoveries and revelations of what a fools paradise my marriage had actually been kept hitting me from all sides. I lost everything I had.

My family spirited my son away to Michigan because I was such a mess. Shake a man’s world hard enough the world doesn’t fall apart, the man does. I don’t know how I survived. Dumb luck and a little voice in the back of my mind “Your son needs you, you’re all he has.”

Even after all these years it is painful to think about.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Fast forward to December 1994. I found enough of myself to get back up and stand on my own two feet. I got on a bus to Michigan with a suitcase half full of clothes(every thing I owned) and a vague plan. “Get the drugs out of my system, get my son, and go home to California to start over”.

I quit the drugs cold turkey with no rehab. I then realized if I went back to California the hole I had dug for myself and climbed out of was there waiting for me. I decided to start over in Michigan.

My sister and mother convinced me ask for state help, despite my very limited success in California I agreed.

Here is the “help” that was given me, a single dad trying to cope with loss and raise a young son who couldn’t understand why his mommy left him.

I was enrolled in a program called “Work First” I was thrilled, my new home was going to help me!! They were going to teach me use a computer. I was going to learn to program and repair computers. I would be able to get a high paying job in a high demand growth industry. I would once again be a fully functional and contributing member of society.

I couldn’t wait to go to class. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. I was still recovering from the meth, my body wanted to sleep, my mind wouldn’t let me. I was up and ready an hour before I needed to be. I was on my way!

My first week I took my tests and did my assignments. I was in the top five percent of my class. Our assignment on Thursday was to fill out a job application. I didn’t have a car so I walked to the gas station across the street. I got a job paying $5.00 an hr.

Friday I told my instructor what I had done. “Congratulations, you graduated”. I was out of the program. No free training. But not to worry, we’ll still train you.

Since I am a high school graduate it would have only cost me $150.00 a credit and I only needed about 20 credits! Making $200.00 a week how was I to get $3,000.00 for my training?

I have no doubt that in some data bank I’m listed as a glowing success for the program. Less than one week to get me a job, without having to pay for my training.

I stopped asking for help after that. To have all that help taken away because I wasn’t lazy and was willing to work for what I got.

I worked hard and became Manager of that station and have since moved on to better things.

I still had a choice to make, work two jobs to buy my son expensive toys and clothes or spend time with my son. I chose to spend time with my boy. I did without so I could give him what he needed. He needed glasses, he got them. When he needed braces, he got them. We may not have had a lot, but we had each other.

So yes, I do know what I’m talking about.

I did not write this so anyone would feel sorry for me, I am proud of my son and what I overcame to raise him. He is in college with a 4.0 average.

If you are a single parent and have read this far, have hope. You have something that was not available to me. You have a computer, you have the Internet.

You will have to work hard, but you’re used to that. Anyone who tells you “Sign up, Do Nothing And Get Paid” is lying to you or trying to scam you. At best they want you to scam money from other hard working people.

There are many free and low cost training programs available on line. Do some research and find the one that is best for you.

And always remember,You are not alone, there others like you, overcoming the odds, join them.