The public are becoming increasing more aware of the potential applications of DNA technology, although there are also many misconceptions that have to be resolved before people can make a considered judgment as to its potential uses in specific situations.
It would benefit you, therefore, to consider the following five questions that people commonly ask prior to embarking on DNA testing.
1. Is There a More Accurate Way of Proving Relationships the DNA Tests?
DNA testing is the most accurate known method of proving biological relationships. Blood group screening could prove that an alleged parent could not be so, but not that they definitely were. DNA tests can prove maternity and paternity to within 99.9%+, and can also deny it with 100% certainty.
2. Is There Any Difference Between an At-Home Paternity Test and a Legal DNA Test?
Only in the way the sample is collected and couriered to the lab - there is no difference in the actual testing, and the result will be just the same either way. In order for a DNA paternity test to have legal status, there must be no doubts regarding the source of the sample tested. An independent third party will therefore be nominated top carry out the test.
They will come with the kit and take the sample after validating the identity of the subject. The sample will then be couriered to the lab where the test will be carried out. That way the subject is property identified, and the sample in custody until tested.
With an home paternity test, you can order the testing kit yourself which is delivered to your home. Following the instructions provided you take the sample yourself and post it to the lab that will send the result to you. That has no legal standing, and is for peace of mind' only - in fact it is often called the 'Curiosity Test', and anybody can do it.
3. What Can I Do to Make Sure I Get the Best Laboratory?
First, check the laboratory's accreditation - look for AABB accreditation and that it has also been accredited to ISO 17025 testing standards. If it has neither of these accreditations then find another laboratory. In addition, make sure that it tests at least 16 genetic loci and that a DNA profile for each is provided. Finally, request a statistical probability of parentage - just a yes or no is not enough.
4. For a DNA Paternity Test, Must the Mother also be Sampled?
Not necessarily, but do so if it won't cause any problems. Apart from anything else, if you are in the UK, then permission to sample the child will be required from one of the accepted parents, and if the mother is excluded then you will have to be sure that you qualify. In any case, most companies will include the mother free of charge, and results can be more accurate if the mother is included, particularly if gene mutation has occurred.
5. Can Other Samples be Used to Collect DNA?
Yes, there are a number of possible DNA sources that can be used, particularly when the suspected father is reluctant to or unable to take part. Among these are blood samples, semen and hair, and residues of saliva on cigarette butts and tissues can also be used. The preferred source is the skin cells from the cheek and saliva obtained by swabbing the inside of the cheek.