Paternity tests, maternity tests, and the vanishing twin

in hive-196387 •  2 months ago  (edited)

The Twitter Brouhaha

If you happen to be among those that are quite familiar with the Nigerian Twitter space, you will know that it does not always fall short of entertaining dramas, bitter bigotry, and agenda-driven cliques. While all these have their toxic aspects for a neutral user, there exist a million and one lessons to be learned. For some, it could moral lessons, while for others, it could educational or scientific lessons.

Recently, just a few days back to be more specific, a piece of rather horrible news emerged of the gruesome murder of a lady, a mother of two kids, by her husband. Further information has it that the husband got to know, through DNA test, that he is not the paternal father of one of the two kids, the second born.

The family of four was in the process of relocating to Canada on a permanent basis and the Canadian embassy requested that the husband provides proof of paternity of the two kids in the form of a DNA test. On getting to know that he is not the father of one of the kids, he tied the wife with a rope, plucked out her braids one after the other using a plier, and stabbed her to death in several places before committing suicide himself.

The terrible news provoked a variety of reactions from users with the subject of paternity fraud being the center of discussion. Apart from the fact that Nigerian women top the list of the most unfaithful women (62%) in the world according to the survey conducted by Durex, about 30% of the DNA paternity tests sent to the laboratory usually come back negative. Yet, the favourite slogan of Nigerian girls on social media is 'men are scum'.

In some of the reactions, most male users emphasized how important it is for every Nigerian father to conduct paternity tests their children while some ladies argued that negative paternity tests do not necessarily mean that the women are unfaithful. They backed up their argument that babies sometimes get switched at births and to further prove the veracity of paternity frauds, a corresponding maternity test should follow every paternity test.

How possible is it for babies to be switched at the point of births?

The validity of the argument that a negative paternity test might be as a result of babies being switched at births will only hold water if there exists a significant number of cases of babies being switched at births.

source: pexel

Although there are no reports of babies being switched at births, a report of a low level of spousal participation in labour and delivery in Nigeria is sometimes used as a backup for the claim that babies can be deliberately/mistakenly witched during births. According to the report, only about 30% of men in the Northern part of Nigeria participate in their spouse's labour and delivery while the situation is a bit fair in the Southern part with about 63% statistics.

In addition to absentee husbands during labour and deliveries, there also exists the possibility of deliveries without the presence of any family member, friend, or acquaintance during the entire process of childbirth.

While these two factors can increase the likelihood of mistaken or deliberate switched babies during birth, they do not necessarily prove that baby switching occurs in the real sense. On a more personal note, I have only witnessed a situation of babies being switched at births in movies. If indeed baby switching at births occurs in nature, the incidence would be extremely low.

A negative maternity test does not always prove a woman's faithfulness

In reality and as backed up by science, a negative paternity test with a corresponding negative maternity test is not always proof that the woman is faithful. In actual fact, a woman might be the biological mother of a baby and still, the maternity test will come out negative. This situation is best explained using the story of the vanishing twin.

A couple was in the process of divorcing when the court asked for the paternity and maternity DNA test of their kids (including a gestating baby) in order to sort the issue of child support. To the surprise of the wife, the maternity test came out negative for all the kids and the unborn baby while the paternity test came out positive for all.

There has never been a doubt about the biological mother of the kids and the negative maternity test of the baby after the pregnancy was delivered amid strict monitoring by the court further confirmed the confusion. It took a bit of time before medical experts were able to explain the bizarre phenomenon. They explained it to be a case of vanishing twin.

By Kevin Dufendach - Own work, CC BY 3.0

According to the explanation of the experts, the wife has a twin sister that was never given to because she died during gestation and got absorbed by the wife. In other words, the woman was a dizygotic twin but was given birth to as a single baby with her ovary carrying the DNA of her non-existing twin sister. In short, every pregnancy she carries will always belong to her invisible twin sister.

The case of vanishing twin thus means that in the absence of a case of switched babies at the point of birth, a negative paternity test with a corresponding negative maternity test still did not absolve a woman from the blame of being unfaithful.


The incidence of women unfaithfulness and paternity fraud in Nigeria is quite high, yet, the women are the ones busy singing 'men are scums' all about. Some women argued that negative paternity tests might mean that the baby was switched at births and not necessarily that the woman cheated. Hence, they advocated for negative paternity tests to be followed by corresponding maternity tests.

However, the chances of babies being switched at births are quite low, virtually non-existence within the clime of the country, except in movies. Also, a negative maternity test does not necessarily absolve women of being unfaithful as shown by scientific evidence that a woman might carry babies with different DNA if such a woman is a victim of a vanishing twin.

Thank you all for reading!.


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I'm impressed. This is well written, carefully researched, well-formatted, and interestingly composed. You captured the mind of an average Nigerian woman, especially those on social media like twitter. Pheew! I never knew that vanishing twin was a thing until today.

I owe you some tips for this post @hadji. Remind me if you don't hear from me in no time.

So did I, about the vanishing twin stuff!

@tipu curate

Upvoted 👌 (Mana: 12/18)

That was interesting !! :D

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As you, I don't buy much this swapped baby stuff. It may happen, of course, but this should be the exception upon millions of cases... This kind of thing is so well monitored those days (at least in European countries). I was in fact much more amazed by the vanishing twin story. I want to say that this is really cool stuff (although cool may not be the best adjective to use here, after accounting for the context :) ).