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J Am Med Womens Assoc (1972). 1997 Winter;52(1):16-21, 27.

Genetic identification of children of the disappeared in Argentina.

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Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City, USA.


During the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983, the security forces engaged in well-planned repression that included the abduction, torture, and disappearance of thousands of dissidents. Repression spared neither children nor pregnant women. Approximately 220 babies and children of the disappeared victims were abducted and kept mostly by families with connections with the military. After the restoration of democracy, attempts to find and identify the missing children were made, with the goal of restoring their personal and familial identities and returning them to their surviving relatives. The Association of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and a number of geneticists who developed and applied methods of genetic identification to this human rights cause were instrumental in this quest. Initial use of histocompatibility (HLA) typing for genetic identification was later followed by nuclear DNA typing and mitochondrial DNA sequencing. Of 56 children found and identified, 30 were returned to their legitimate families, 13 remained with the families who had adopted them in good faith, 6 are still the subject of custody litigation in the courts, and 7 were found dead. Psychological and ethical guidelines protecting the best interests of the children were followed in all proceedings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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