Italians are offered “do it yourself” paternity testing kits

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 27 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1275
  1. Sophie Arie
  1. Rome

    An Italian businessman has triggered debate in Italy by advertising “do it yourself” paternity testing kits, with which men can check their children's DNA without telling their wives.

    The kit—which Aurelio Coppola has been advertising for €700 (£470; $840) each since May—allows suspicious fathers to take a swab from their child's mouth, and their own, and send it to a laboratory for testing.

    The results, which Coppola claims are “over 99.99% accurate,” are posted or emailed to the anxious parent about a week later.

    Mr Coppola is among the latest to see a business opportunity in providing “peace of mind” for suspicious fathers. As a result, Italy is the latest European country plunged into debate over whether DIY paternity testing invades an individual's right to privacy.

    “It is a simple service, meant to help men get rid of their doubts,” says Mr Coppola. His advert for the kit appears alongside sex tips and scantily clad models in one of Italy's glossy men's magazine. The kit can also be ordered through his website (

    “I'm a businessman,” said Mr Coppola. “I change sector every now and then. There's certainly a market for this. I'm just testing it now to see if it's big enough.”

    So far, there are few restrictions on the sale of such kits in Italy, where a health ministry committee is assessing the ethical implications but controls are not yet in place.

    The easy to use kits, used by thousands in the United States, have been introduced in several European countries in recent years including Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and Britain. The tests can also be used to identify donor parents and biological parents of adopted children. But France has been so concerned about potential invasions of privacy that it has banned the kits. In Belgium there are strict regulations, obliging both parents to agree to the test.

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