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Defining background DNA levels found on the skin of children aged 0-5 years

Graham, Eleanor Alison May, Watkins, William ORCID:, Dunstan, Frank David John ORCID:, Maguire, Sabine Ann, Nuttall, Diane ORCID:, Swinfield, Chloe Elizabeth, Rutty, Guy Nathan and Kemp, Alison Mary ORCID: 2014. Defining background DNA levels found on the skin of children aged 0-5 years. International Journal of Legal Medicine 128 (2) , pp. 251-258. 10.1007/s00414-013-0906-8

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There are currently no data available regarding the normal levels of DNA found on the skin of children engaging in routine day to day activities to assist with the forensic interpretation of DNA profiles generated from skin surface swabs. To address this deficit, skin surface swab samples were collected from 12 face/neck sites and 20 body sites on 50 children less than 5 years old. After exclusion of spoilt samples, 60 sets of swabs from 47 children (30 face/neck, 30 body) comprising of 944 individual samples were analysed. The number of alleles observed which could have originated from the child and the number which must have come from another source (non-child) were analysed. The following variables were evaluated: age, kissing, feeding and washing practices, number of contacts and application of cream. Overall, extremely small amounts of non-child DNA were retrieved from skin swabs. Child only (46.3 %) or no DNA at all (18.6 %) was observed for 64.9 % of all swabbed samples. Low levels of non-child DNA (1–5 alleles) were observed on 31.6 % of all swabs tested with only 3.4 % of swabs showing six or more alleles. A great deal of variation between children and between sites in the levels of both child DNA and non-child DNA was observed. A multilevel model, taking account of clustering within children, showed that there was a strong direct association between the amounts of child and non-child DNA observed. There was no relationship between the amount of DNA recovered and the demographic and biographic variables analysed. These background data have the potential to assist the analysis of DNA from the skin of children during criminal investigation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > RL Dermatology
Uncontrolled Keywords: DNA; Forensic; Children; Background; Skin; Transfer
Publisher: Springer Verlag
ISSN: 0937-9827
Funders: MRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 13 August 2013
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2023 02:10

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