DNA paternity testing is a vital tool for establishing a connection between a child and their possible father. Used by the legal and scientific communities alike, DNA paternity testing is a safe and highly effective way to uncover the connection between a child and their biological father.
DNA paternity tests are used to identify a child's biological father.
At-home DNA paternity tests are nearly 100% accurate for establishing paternity.
The effectiveness of at-home tests is equivalent to those performed in a lab.
DNA paternity testing is possible both before and after a child is born.
DNA paternity test explained
DNA paternity tests are designed to establish paternity or fatherhood. They specifically compare genetic code from samples taken from a known or potential father and their child. Paternity tests can be used both during pregnancy (in a hospital setting) and after a child is born. Currently, DNA paternity tests are one of the most reliable and accurate ways to determine if a man is the father of a child in cases where paternity is unknown or in question.
What is DNA?
DNA is the abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA is a complex structure that contains the vital building blocks of your genetic code. It may be helpful to think of DNA as a cookbook or set of blueprints that contain instructions for the development and function of your body. DNA is stored in the chromosomes found in cells throughout the body. Each child inherits two sets of chromosomes, one set from their mother and the second from their father.
Types of DNA paternity tests
There are two types of DNA paternity tests for use after children are born: blood tests and saliva (cheek swab) tests. Both types of tests are equally as accurate; however, a blood test cannot be done entirely at home as it requires a blood sample. This is usually obtained at a lab which requires going to a hospital or outpatient medical office.
Contact your healthcare professional for support and guidance to help you select the best testing option.
Blood tests use blood samples to collect DNA. Blood is drawn at a medical facility and sent to a lab for analysis. A blood test conducted at a medical office is generally required if you require the results of a paternity test for legal purposes.
There are multiple at-home paternity testing options. Some can be ordered online and mailed to your home, and others are available at your local pharmacy. At-home tests require you to send your samples to a lab.
At the lab, the DNA samples are run through a series of tests called DNA sequencing. These tests look for matches between the child's genetic code and that of the potential father.
The results of these tests take from a few days to a week or longer to receive.
When selecting the best at-home DNA paternity test, there are several factors to consider. For example:
- Inclusion of lab fees
- Waiting time for results
- Ease of sample collection
- Number of DNA markers used
- How results are accessed
- Cost of the testing kit
Some at-home tests include collecting and sending saliva samples to a lab for analysis. Studies show mouth swab (saliva) tests are up to 100% effective for establishing paternity. This indicates saliva tests that can be conducted at home are equally effective as those performed in a lab, provided the results are not needed for legal purposes.
Can I do DNA paternity tests while pregnant?
Yes, in addition to at-home tests and blood tests (which are used after a child is born), there are options used to establish paternity before a child is born. The three options include non-invasive prenatal paternity testing (NIPP), chorionic villus sampling (CVS), and amniocentesis. All three in-utero options are equally accurate as blood and saliva tests; however, they cannot be performed at home.
Can I conduct a DNA test without the father knowing?
While it is possible to do a DNA test without the father knowing, it is essential to remember that the results of the test are beneficial for personal information only. A test done without the other party's knowledge is called a “non-legal” paternity test.
One way to perform this type of test is to collect samples from the father’s first-degree relatives or parents. Another option is to use non-traditional DNA samples, such as those found in hair clippings or on a toothbrush.
There are several reasons why someone may need to establish paternity. The most common examples include child custody, medical needs, legal rights such as child support, and long-term health care concerns. At-home test kits are a highly accurate and safe way to test for paternity in the safety and privacy of your home. To learn more about DNA paternity testing, contact your healthcare provider. They can help you choose the best testing method for your unique needs.
- National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute. DNA.
- MedLine Plus. How is genetic testing done?
- American Pregnancy Association. DNA Paternity Test.
- South Australian Cerebral Palsy Research Group. DNA from buccal swabs suitable for high-throughput SNP multiplex analysis.