Can a child resemble a man who is not their father?

What you need to know:

  • Blood grouping was used but this would only be useful in excluding offspring with different blood groups and, hence, was not accurate as well.

My son resembles my brother more than me. I want to do a DNA test to find out the real truth. Where do I start? Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

A DNA test is done to find out the genetic makeup of any living thing, including persons. Therefore, one can tell who the father, mother, brother, sister, or cousin is or is not as told from the genetic make-up of those tested.

Done between a father and child, a paternity DNA test can verify the father of a child or if one is not the father. In your case, DNA tests to rule out or incriminate your brother can also be done with or without your wife providing samples to be tested.

In DNA tests, samples of blood, hair, teeth, fingernail clippings, cheek swabs or used toothbrushes and blood stains may be used. In Uganda, however, blood tests are the commonest way used.

Previously, resemblance would be used to determine paternity but this was most inaccurate and watered down by claims that offspring resembled the maternal side relatives; some unknown to the paternal side. Whereas resemblances may result from genetics, the environment may also play a big role, making people who are not related through blood resemble even more than blood relatives.

Blood grouping was used but this would only be useful in excluding offspring with different blood groups and, hence, was not accurate as well. Also, this required input from the mother in many circumstances.

Therefore, since paternity tests using DNA testing are more accurate and convenient, they should be preferred compared to either resemblances or blood groups. These are likely to incriminate your brother even when he may not be the father of the child in question.