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How Does a DNA Test Determine Paternity?

  • Post published:June 30, 2022
  • Post category:Blog

DNA tests are stereotypically used to determine paternity on sensational reality programs and in high-profile court cases. However, DNA tests for paternity have other uses as well, including verifying a family line for medical reasons.

Over the years, the technology and methodology involved in these tests have changed, resulting in safer and more accurate ways to determine paternity. Continue reading to learn how DNA tests determine paternity and why you may order one. To receive a DNA paternity test from the comfort of your home book today. 

How is DNA inherited?

How DNA is inherited is key to how DNA tests work. Our DNA is an individual schematic for our identity at the genetic level. Half of the “material” in our DNA is inherited from each parent. Tests that assess the likelihood of parentage using samples of DNA from both the potential father and child are just that – a test of likelihood.

This is why the results of a paternity test will never be 100% accurate using current technology. However, by testing similarities between two genetic codes, lab technicians can determine with near certainty the identity of a child’s father, accurate to about 99.99%, regardless of the test used.

Why Get a Paternity Test?

Paternity tests could be ordered for many reasons. They are often ordered as part of the evidence of a custody hearing to determine who is a child’s real parent and therefore who has legal responsibility for them.

However, DNA paternity tests can also be used for personal reasons, such as confirming a lineage to assess your risk factors for a genetic condition. The test might also be used to verify the parentage of a potential heir in an inheritance situation.

Often, the legal rights of parents for custody of children as well as the legal obligations of child support hinge on these DNA tests. This is why accurate testing methods are essential. Our Legal DNA paternity testing service is an easy, painless, and quick method for obtaining legal DNA paternity testing that is admissible in a court of law. 

What are the Types of Paternity Tests?

DNA paternity tests come in several types, broadly separated by whether the child in question has been born or not. If they have, there are two types of DNA collection methods: blood and saliva.

If blood is used, both the potential child and father will give samples of blood, which will then be shipped to a lab to be analyzed. This is an important step since some states will not accept a paternity test as legal evidence if the tests are performed at home (New York is one).

For saliva tests, cheek swabs are submitted to laboratory testing in the same way. At-home testing kits are also available which, if the legal requirements of the situation permit it, can be mailed directly to the designated lab from your post office.

Paternity tests can also be performed on unborn children for the same reasons, such as confirming custody or a lineage. These tests are just as accurate as others, though they require different sampling methods.

The most common method is an NIPP or noninvasive prenatal paternity test. This test can be conducted on a mother’s blood since blood from the baby mixes with it during the first trimester of the pregnancy. A medical technician can then compare the second source of DNA found in the blood to the father’s saliva or blood sample to confirm parentage.

The second confirmation method involves CVS or chorionic villus sampling. This requires inserting a needle into the mother’s womb to extract a cell sample of her placenta. This can be performed between weeks 10 and 13 of the pregnancy. The cells are then scanned for their DNA and compared to the father’s sample.

The last and least often used method is called amniocentesis, which requires a sample of amniotic fluid, which contains the DNA of the fetus. This sample can be compared to the father’s sample for matching DNA segments. This test must be performed between weeks 15 and 20.

An NIPP tests for paternity with no risk to either the mother or baby. While the other two methods are regarded as generally safe, they pose a small risk of miscarriage, which makes them less commonly ordered methods.

The Takeaway for How Does a DNA Test Determine Paternity?

DNA paternity tests work by comparing scans of DNA in the prospective father’s sample with those of the potential child. Whether born or unborn, the child can be confirmed or denied as the father’s child at a percentage of certainty of around 99.99%.

There are many reasons to order a paternity test. Make sure you know the rules of legislation in your state to determine if an at-home test is a legally viable option for you. Otherwise, an accredited lab guarantees the accuracy and legality of this all-important test.

Speedy Sticks is a mobile concierge phlebotomy service that provides at-home blood draws and on-site diagnostic/health screenings for businesses and individuals. One of these tests is a DNA paternity test which can be performed by one of our specialists. Book an appointment today.

*This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace consulting with a healthcare professional. Please consult with your primary care physician or healthcare provider before engaging in any services offered by Speedy Sticks.

**These are approximations, and experts disagree on some values. Consult your healthcare provider for recommendations suitable for you. It is also important to ensure the levels are given in the same measurements, such as mg/dL, etc.