Paternity Testing - Are You Raising Someone Else's Child?
By Pete McFraser
The dawn of the DNA test
Back in the 1700s, the best way to determine paternity was by a good hard look and the child, followed by a good
hard look at the father. Enough coincidences and maybe a relationship could be proposed. A hundred years later, eye
color was discovered to be a paternity identifier. This theory has had its flaws exposed because of recent DNA
advances. We now know that eye color is determined by at least six alleles, or genetic markers. Paternity testing
has become a lot easier and affordable over the past few years due to advances in DNA science. Although an
estimated 200,000 DNA tests are conducted each year by states needing to sort child-support and welfare issues, few
people are willing to conduct their own at-home paternity test. They don't realize the simplicity and convenience
of an at-home paternity test.
How does a home DNA test work?
Paternity testing requires a painless sample from both the child and possible father. Even without a sample from
the mother, DNA paternity test results are up to 99.9999% accurate–that's one-in-a-million odds your results are
incorrect. Most companies provide a free home kit for you to provide the samples and require you to send the kit
back to the laboratory with the accompanying fee.
Because many companies are aware of the discomfort of drawing blood from a child in order to get a sample,
buccal (mouth) swabs are being accepted as an alternative. By gently massaging the inside of the child's mouth,
cheek cells are collected. These cells are then sent to the lab for testing. Labs analyze up to sixteen genetic
markers of the child and match them against the markers of the alleged father. Because each of us receives half our
genetic markers from each parent, the results of DNA paternity testing are still accurate without the DNA
information of the mother. Most labs will have results in 10 days and charge about $290 for a basic paternity
What else can a DNA test do?
DNA kits can also be used to analyze siblingship, establish cousin or grandparent relationships, determine twin
zygosity (i.e. whether twins are fraternal or identical), identify ancestral origin, verify Native American decent,
assure parents they left the hospital with the right baby, and most important, provide legal evidence–be prepared
to pay a bit more for legal tests. Legal tests can be used to settle adoption issues, settle child-support
disputes, and provide information for immigration files.
How to choose a DNA laboratory
Accreditation is a vital part of choosing a laboratory. Accredited labs have an annual audit and inspection,
undergo internal and external reviews, and have their equipment calibrated for accuracy. Look for an ISO and/or
AABB certification. Accredited labs will have a good reputation and near 100% track record for court cases.
Look for hidden fees. Some companies will charge you for the kit and then charge you again for the results.
Also, double check when you order your kit that you're only buying the results you need.
Ask about privacy. Make sure that your identity and intentions are kept secure.
Enjoy piece of mind
Be confident that the questions you have can be answered. DNA testing is safe and stress-free. Find a free kit
and an information packet and you're on your way to getting the piece of mind that you deserve.