Although there have been significant recent advances in DNA screening technology and the public is better educated in this technique than it was, it still does not have all the information needed to properly understand the technique.

It is therefore important that you read the following questions that people commonly ask prior to undergoing such DNA testing procedures.

1. Is This the Best Way to Prove the Parentage of a Child?

There is no better way. Blood group analysis used to be used, but only to disprove parentage. A child and a prospective father sharing the same blood group does not prove that person to be the father. DNA testing does, to within 99.9% certainty and more, and can likewise prove maternity. It can also prove that subjects are not the parents to within 100% certainty. You don’t get better than that.

2. Is There A Difference Between the Legal DNA Test and the Home Paternity Test?

Yes, there is, but not in the actual test itself. The difference is in the way the sample is collected. If you want to carry a DNA test yourself, you can order the kit and have it delivered to your home. It comes with instructions, swabs, containers labels and documentation, and all you do is follow the instructions and send off the sample to the lab. The results will come back to you in due course.

The obvious problem with that is that there is no legal proof of who the sample belongs to, and it can easily be tampered with. It isn’t legal, and is sometimes referred to as a ‘Curiosity test’ or ‘Peace of Mind Test’. The Legal DNA Test involves the appointment of somebody to come and take the sample after identifying the person providing it. It is then packaged and taken to the lab under escort, so that there is unbroken custody of the sample throughout the entire procedure. Only in that way can the sample tested be certain to belong to the correct person, and the test result regarded as legally binding.

3. What do I look for in a good laboratory?

First look for their credentials as a testing laboratory. ISO 17025 accreditation is good because it shows that it employs good testing and calibration standards. Then make sure that they are DNA profiling each of at least 21 loci, and not less. Finally insist on a statistical probability of parentage and not just a yes or no.

4. Must a sample also be tested from the mother?

It’s not necessary, but if any gene mutation has occurred, it might be requested, since it provides results that are more accurate. Besides, most companies will provide that without extra charge, so unless there is a specific reason why not, then also have the mother tested. In any case, one of the accepted parents has to give permission to take a sample from the child, so unless you are the legal father, you will need the mother.

5. What Other Samples can be used for DNA Other Than an Oral Swab?

DNA can be extracted from blood, semen and hair, and also from the saliva on cigarette butts. Sometimes the suspected father is not available, or you don’t want him to know he is being tested. Then you can get samples from cigarette butts, hairbrushes and combs, clothing, sheets, etc. Oral swabs are best but not the only source.