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Monday, September 1, 2008

Maternity Testing

posted by on September 1 at 12:58 PM

Well, we seem to have a bit of a question here.

While some cover is being created, if I were a woman accused of claiming my daughter’s child was my own, and I knew such accusations were false, I’d use science to prove myself right.

Using genetics to test for maternity is no different than in paternity testing, and I wrote about that a bit ago:

Paternity testing is all about mixing and matching.

DNA-based tests work by comparing the recipes—the alleles—you have for a given gene to those of a possible child. For most genes, we get two alleles—one from our mother and one from our father. A child of yours must have one of your alleles for all the paired genes in his or her DNA.

A graphic if this process—how genetics can be used to rule out a woman as the mother of a child—is over at

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But what you're gonna get in response to this suggestion is the same kind of crap that the powers that be trot out in repsonse to questions about things like 9/11 : "We won't even acknowledge or respond to your question."

And when it's that easy to prove, I'm afraid that's not good enough.

Posted by She's an idiot either way - so what's the real question? | September 1, 2008 1:17 PM

The only thing this rumor was good for was uncovering Bristol's pregnancy.

It's pretty obvious that Palin is Trig's mother--maternal age is the primary risk factor for Down syndrome.

Posted by annie | September 1, 2008 1:19 PM

Making public the results of a DNA test for Trig would be a public relations coup. Palin should totally do it. There should already be tissue samples available, right?

That should put these rumors to rest once and for all.

Posted by flamingbanjo | September 1, 2008 1:29 PM


Somewhat, but not really. While advanced maternal age dramatically increases the risk of trisomy-21 (Downs), this increase is combined with a dramatic decrease in fertility.

So, while babies born to older mothers have a much higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities, in absolute numbers most Down's children are born to young mothers. I believe the numbers are something like 80% of Down's children are born to young, rather than old.

And exactly, flamingbanjo! If these rumors are false, there would be no more devastating hit on Kos et al than a definitive test showing the rumor is false.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | September 1, 2008 1:34 PM

OK, what percentage of Down syndrome children are born to mothers 17 and under? I'm assuming this irrationally consistent rumor is taking into account Bristol's current pregnancy--meaning she would have had to have given birth to Trig and then almost immediately become pregnant again, which is not particularly likely either.

Posted by annie | September 1, 2008 1:42 PM

Approximately 1:1000 live births will be trisomy-21 for a 17 year old. For a 44 year old, that increases to 1:38.

I also believe this rumor is probably false. (Strictly speaking, it is possible to have such a quickly paired pregnancies--provided the mother isn't breastfeeding.)

I'm mostly trying to point out how it could easily be shown to be false (unlike many of the crazy accusations against Obama, for which we lack something as definitively refuting as a genetic test.) Anyone interested in electing Obama should tread carefully here.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | September 1, 2008 1:49 PM


You're making the assumption that Bristol is indeed as far along as we're being told she is.

And the fact of the matter is that women are generally the MOST FERTILE immediately after giving birth, so aside from the conveniently dodgy time-line presented by Palin, it's entirely possible poor Bristol could easily have gotten knocked-up again almost immediately after giving birth to little Trig.

And for all of you high-roaders out there, yeah this sucks balls for the kids - all of them - to have their every move thrust into the public spotlight like this. But, maybe, just MAYBE their mom should have given that a bit of thought BEFORE agreeing to be McSame's running mate.

Posted by COMTE | September 1, 2008 2:05 PM

Science schmience. Isn't genetics one of the foundations upon which 'evolution' is based?

Nah, we'll just ask Jesus whose baby it is.

Posted by Fawxer | September 1, 2008 2:10 PM

Plus, I'm sure that if the "Fraudulent Birth of Trig" story is true, the Palins could have the same backwoods Alaska doctor that delivered the baby collect tissues for the maternity test. Conspiratorial perhaps, but you can never trust a Republican.

Posted by Fawxer | September 1, 2008 2:14 PM

"... she would have had to have given birth to Trig and then almost immediately become pregnant again, which is not particularly likely either."

You obviously don't know any daughters of crazy fundamentalist families. Plus -- hello? -- they're lying about how far along she is. They're Republicans, it's what they do.

And don't forget to tread carefully, everyone! You know -- just like the Republicans do with us! Otherwise, they might not like us anymore!


Posted by whatevernevermind | September 1, 2008 2:20 PM

Nobody should be sorry for digging dirt on the Palin family. They are dodgy. They tell bizarre stories. Even if everything they say is true, their judgment is appalling.

Think about how she would function in office. Every move would be shrouded in secrecy, yet ragged with loose ends and the answer to every question would raise more questions. It is nobody's fault but Sarah Palin that she is dogged this way.

She is incompetent at managing her public image and is a lousy politician. And still we don't know what the hell McCain was thinking.

Posted by elenchos | September 1, 2008 3:08 PM

I think they're lying about what day Trig was born, too.

Posted by Fnarf | September 1, 2008 3:09 PM

now the blogs are posting that Obama was in the old jokes word- "born early"

The whole sage of early pregnancy and wedlock is a very sensitive topic in communities of color - keep stirring with all these mainstream prim and proper illusions - then - wonder why the backlash of the black community

Man oh man - what obsessing

Two babies soon and two babies with plenty of good family love and tons of prime support - moms and dads galore

What is the fucking rub to you people?

Posted by Gene | September 1, 2008 3:40 PM

Well, you'd have to test Sarah and baby, not Bristol and the baby.

50% of a baby's genes are the same as the mothers. But siblings also share 50% of each others genes. So Bristol & the baby are going to have 1/2 their genes in common either way.

On the other hand, if Sarah is the grandmother, not mother, she & Trig will only share 1/4 of their genes.

And p.s.: What the hell kind of name is "Trig" anyway? Is that short for "Trigger"?
(Or maybe it was the math class Bristol was skipping when she got knocked up?!?)

Posted by Timrrr | September 1, 2008 4:27 PM

@14: Trig is for Trigonometry. It's the sort of math you have to engage in for those Alaska family trees. Or the schematic in which McCain's election trajectory now proceeds.

Posted by Dave Coffman | September 1, 2008 6:47 PM

Wasn't the leak about Bristol meant to quash the rumors about Trigg? What kind of mother throws her kid to the media wolves like that? Forget DNA. Couldn't Palin have just produced his birth certificate?
Why did she accept the VP offer to begin with? She had to know that Bristol's pregnancy would be obvious at some point.
Palin's political ambitions are a higher priority than her kids. She should not be a parent if she can't think of anyone but herself.

Oh, and I think "Trigg" is a Nordic name.

Posted by LLG | September 3, 2008 12:16 AM

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