Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science

Retrieval of DNA from the faces of children aged 0–5 years: A technical note

S. Maguire, B. Ellaway, V.L. Bowyer, E.M.A. Graham & G.N. Rutty. Journal of Forensic Nursing, 4(1), pp.40-4. (2008).


Approximately 21% of children suffer from some form of physical abuse. It is hypothesized that when an individual hits a child some of that person’s DNA will be deposited onto the child’s skin. As yet, no one has reported a method of sampling DNA from the skin of this vulnerable group of individuals. We have sampled DNA from several facial areas of 30 children aged 5 years of age and under. The results show that it is possible to swab the faces of this age group without distressing them or contaminating the samples. Additionally the results indicate that the DNA obtained is almost entirely that of the subject, with little nondonor DNA being observed.

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