A Paternity DNA test makes use of DNA from two individuals to determine whether these two individuals, that is the baby and the dad are biologically related.
The technology behind the Paternity DNA Test
DNA is a substance that contains the genetic code of organisms. Although 99.9% of human DNA sequences are the same in every person, the remainder is what gives each person their own unique DNA characteristics.
In 1984, geneticist Sir Alec Jeffreys noticed that these unique DNA characteristics were as unique as fingerprints. The DNA we all inherit is gotten from our biological parents, 50% from the mom and 50% from the dad. The paternity test involves collecting and comparing a tiny sample of DNA from the likely dad and the baby. The results can either disprove or prove that there’s a genetic relationship between them.
How reliable is the Paternity DNA Test?
The results are accurate and show dependable proof of a relationship between the baby and dad as the probability of parentage is 99% and is even admissible as a legal document in the court of law.
The specific DNA profiling tests advanced from Short Tandem Repeat (STR) analysis to Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis, after the isolation of the first restriction enzymes in 1970. RFLP was highly accurate, since the scientists developed a way to use these restriction enzymes to isolate and cut specific segments of DNA.
However, a newer technology was developed in the 1983, became the standard for DNA testing in the 1990s, it is called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). It is more accurate and an even faster method of testing than RFLP. It’s exclusion rate is 99.99% or higher.
How to get a Paternity test?
A paternity test can be taken voluntarily or involuntarily such when it is ordered by the law court. The former is the non-legal Paternity tests, while the later is the legal Paternity test. If you want to get your DNA tested in private, seek the advice of a healthcare professional or your primary care physician.
Paternity test locations include at home, at the laboratory of a DNA testing company near you or at a certified facility such as a clinic, hospital, medical office or health department.
There are also many Paternity DNA testing companies that offer private at-home testing kits.
Some of these kits are sold in pharmacies such as Walgreens or Rite-Aid and can even be ordered from the internet. After ordering or buying the kits, you follow instructions to collect the DNA samples by yourself and send back to the company. Their laboratory processes the samples and give you the results usually within 5 to 10 days or earlier.
When considering a Paternity DNA testing company, remember to check the reviews of the company and if the company is accredited by an organization such as the AABB.
Usually test results obtained from home DNA collection kits despite being accurate are not admissible in court because the test samples would have been obtained without a witness and the court has to be sure the initial samples haven’t been tampered with.
A court ordered paternity test is required when one of the parents doesn’t agree to participate in the test voluntarily. If that’s the case, you need to reach out to a lawyer who will draft a paternity case which will be submitted to the court. The court would then serve a document to the alleged father ordering him to provide a sample of his DNA to an approved paternity testing facility for genetic testing. If the alleged father refuses to comply, legal action would be taken against him.
A legal Paternity test could also be needed when there are disputes over parentage, such as when the mother of the child was having an affair with another man around the time the baby was conceived. The process is quite similar to the one described above.
What DNA samples are taken from the body?
The most common approach is buccal swab collection. This is painless method done by removing check cells using a cotton swab. These cells contain the DNA to be used for further testing. Alternatively, saliva can be collected in a similar way. The samples are taken from both the baby and the alleged dad.
Hair Paternity DNA test is another possibility. In this case, the hair is collected with the hair root still attached, typically a minimum of 6 strands are recommended and these are stored in a dry plastic bag. This is not as good as the other DNA test, since the accuracy and success of this test is less than 60% because of the limited amount of DNA extracted from the hair.
Those already mentioned are the non-invasive methods which don’t cause pain. Another way of collecting DNA would be the invasive method of taking blood with a syringe by a healthcare professional.
Paternity DNA test during pregnancy
When performing a paternity test before birth, the doctor has 2 options, chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or Amniocentesis.
In CVS, a small sample of placental tissue which contains the baby’s DNA is retrieved and is sent to the laboratory for testing. The procedure is made only between 11 and 13 weeks of pregnancy.
Amniocentesis, is usually performed between 16 and 22 weeks of pregnancy. This test involves passing a needle through the mother’s abdomen into the womb to collect a small sample of amniotic fluid, which also contains cells from the baby. The collected samples are then sent to a laboratory for examination.
Cost of Paternity DNA test
Paternity DNA tests have a wide price range. Home paternity DNA test retail kits can be as cheap as $30. For a complete test with the retail kit and further testing, it could be affordable between $100 to $400. While the legal Paternity DNA test usually costs between $300 to $500.
Prenatal Paternity DNA test are more expensive because they in include radiography with ultrasound, a CVS or amniocentesis technique as well as hospital fees.