DNA technology has advanced in recent years, and the public is becoming more aware of what it can do. However, there are still misunderstandings of the applications of the technique, and more public education is needed to resolve this.

It is therefore important that you fully understand what is involved before undergoing a DNA testing procedure, and read the following questions that people generally ask before doing so.

1. Is DNA Screening the Most Accurate Way of Proving Parentage?

Yes, there is no known method that is more accurate than the 99.9% plus certainty of DNA testing. Blood type screening cannot prove that a particular person is the father or mother, only that they are not. DNA paternity test can prove that they are not to 100%, but is the accuracy with which parentage can be proved positively that is so impressive. Some tests claim 99.99% certainty.

2. What Differences are there between Legal and At-Home DNA Paternity Tests?

None, as far as the actual testing is concerned. This is identical in each case. However, for a DNA test to have legal standing in a court, the identity of the sample has to be established beyond doubt, because the implications of the result could be far reaching and cheating might, and does, occur with home testing.

For the do it yourself test, also known as the ‘peace of mind’ or ‘curiosity test’, it is enough for you to order the testing kit yourself and collect the sample from the mouth following the written instructions. You then send it off to the lab and wait for the result. The test is carried out the same way as for the legal test, only it won’t stand up in court. The kit itself contains the swabs and instructions, along with labels to use and consent documentation.

For the legal test, a third party has to bring the kit and take the sample after identifying the subject. It is then sealed and couriered to the lab, so that there is an unbroken chain of secure custody before it is tested. Because there is now no possibility of tampering, the result is regarded as legally binding.

3. How Do I Know I Get a Good Laboratory?

A good laboratory should have ISO 17025, indicating it employs good laboratory testing and analysis procedures. Make sure that you are not simply provided with a negative or positive result, but that you are given a statistical probability that the donor of the sample is the father. Finally, make sure that at least 16 DNA loci are tested, and that a profile is provided for each of them. Whilst a laboratory can test less genetic markers if they wish, 16 genetic markers is the minimum accepted standard for DNA testing. The labs which test less should be avoided. Click here to learn more about our laboratory.

4. Do I Also Need a Sample from the Child’s Mother for a DNA Paternity Test?

If you do so, it could make the result more accurate, especially where gene mutation is involved. On top of that, if you are based in the UK the accepted mother or father will have to give permission for the test, so you will have to be sure that your are accepted as the father if you are excluding the accepted mother. Most mothers’ tests are included at no extra cost, so you might as well if there are no reasons why not.

5. What Alternative Samples Can be Used to Obtain DNA?

There are several. Sometimes the suspected father does not want to provide a sample, or is unable to. He may be deceased or uncontactable, and in these cases blood, saliva, and semen traces can be found, or even hairs can be used for DNA extraction. The preferred source is a buccal swab from inside the cheek, but these others can be used if necessary.


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