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      Paternity testing under the cloak of recreational genetics.

      European journal of human genetics : EJHG

      Springer Nature

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          Direct-to-consumer (DTC) internet companies are selling widely advertised and highly popular genetic ancestry tests to the broad public. These tests are often classified as falling within the scope of so-called 'recreational genetics', but little is known about the impact of using these services. In this study, a particular focus is whether minors (and under what conditions) should be able to participate in the use of these DTC tests. Current ancestry tests are easily able to reveal whether participants are related and can, therefore, also reveal misattributed paternity, with implications for the minors and adults involved in the testing. We analysed the publicly available privacy policies and terms of services of 43 DTC genetic ancestry companies to assess whether minors are able to participate in testing DTC genetic ancestry, and also whether and how companies ethically account for the potential of paternity inference. Our results indicated that the majority of DTC genetic ancestry testing companies do not specifically address whether minors are able to participate in testing. Furthermore, the majority of the policies and terms of services fail to mention the vulnerability of minors and family members in receiving unexpected information, in particular, in relation to (misattributed) paternity. Therefore, recreational genetics carries both the risk of unintentionally revealing misidentified paternity, and also the risk that fathers will deliberately use these services to test their children's paternity without revealing their intentions to the mother or any other third party.

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