“Jacket Children” and DNA Testing in Jamaica

“Jacket Children” and DNA Testing in Jamaica

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted October 23, 2007 in DNA Around the World, DNA Testing

A reader of the Jamaica Cleaner is proposing that everyone looking to be married in Jamaica undergo DNA testing first.

The Editor, Sir:

Based on the ‘jacket’ situation in Jamaica, DNA testing may become a way of life. If we do not know who our fathers are we may end up marrying our cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and even our fathers.

Under these circumstances I would not recommend anyone get married without both partners doing DNA tests to see if they are blood-related. This is one situation where the women can’t blame the men for. Ladies if you have only one sex partner every nine months then you won’t have to worry about who the daddy is.

I am, etc.,


jamaica childAccording to Out-of-Wedlock Births by Mark Abrahamson,

When people suspect that a Jamaican child’s social and biological fathers are not the same, but the child is publicly presented as the offspring of the social father, the child is called a “jacket” [emphasis added] in local gossip. The imagery implied is that a jacket child is something a husband “wears” to protect his honor.

Photo: “A second grade boy at the Christiana Primary School [in Jamaica] waves and flashes a brilliant smile while our team builds a new shelter nearby.” ~ Jake Brewer

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Comment by Barry Starr Subscribed to comments via email

How common are social fathers in Jamaica? Is it more than the 4-5% we see here? I guess in an isolated population, even with those percentages it could be a significant genetic problem.

Here in the U.S. a magazine called Men’s Health published an article with a list of genetic tells that supposedly can tell if a kid is yours or not. As I wrote about, these are all pretty useless tells (except maybe blood type) but it does show that jacket children are a concern here in the U.S. as well.

Hi Barry, I wrote a post a few months about how to determine paternity without a DNA test and made the point that the more heterogeneous a population, the easier it would be to determine paternity without a DNA test. In China, as in Jamaica I’m guessing, many men based on superficial appearance could appear to be any child’s father! :P


Note: My last comment edited for clarity.

Comment by andrew Subscribed to comments via email

am just writing to find out if a child is mine but the problem is that am living in england and i dont know when i will be able to flight so am wondering how can i get it done please i need ur help


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