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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

DNA coding

07/10/2006

Question:

Is there a DNA coding sequence taken from a child to indicate if the biological parents were relatives?

Answer:

Not necessarily. To determine if parents are biologically related, you can obtain blood samples to do a DNA test to identify and evaluate each of the parents’ genetic information. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), is the genetic information that is found in the cells of the body that tell the body how to develop, grow and function. We inherit our DNA from our biological parents. The DNA can be compared to see how similar it is between two people.

Because it is very unlikely that any 2 people would have exactly the same cellular information (DNA), in the same way that it is very unlikely that any 2 people would have exactly the same fingerprint patterns, the test is used to determine whether 2 people are related – such as a mother and child, a father and child or a mother and father. If 2 people are biologically related, their DNA patterns will be much more similar than if 2 people are not biologically related. In this case, you would not need to test the couple’s child.

If you wanted to determine if someone is a biological parent (paternity testing), then you would need the child’s blood in order to compare the child’s DNA pattern with that of the parents.

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Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University