When unmarried women in Missouri give birth, the fathers of the children have an opportunity to affirm their paternity. They accomplish this by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity, which is often completed before a hospital discharges a newborn. A study published in the journal Human Nature, however, determined that each year, about 750,000 newborns nationwide go home without any legal documentation declaring who their fathers are. This lack of paternity might impeded efforts by government agencies to collect child support.
The study delved deeper into birth data about 5.4 million births collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and found demographic indicators that correlated with an increased likelihood of men quickly acknowledging their paternity. Women with private health insurance or a college education had fathers named in the birth records for their children more often. Additionally, women who were not teenagers or did not have medical issues or sexually transmitted diseases had paternity established for their children at a greater rate than other groups.