DNA And Genetics

Can a DNA test help me identify biological relatives?

Yes, different techniques and statistical calculations are used to calculate the probability of a biological relationship:

  • Grandparentage

  • Siblingship

  • Genetic reconstruction

  • Y-STR testing

  • Mitochondrial DNA testing


Can a DNA test show whether twins are fraternal or identical?

Yes, DNA testing can definitively show whether twins are fraternal or identical. A Twin Zygosity DNA Test creates a DNA profile for each sibling by testing 16 different locations on your genome. Identical twins will have exactly the same DNA profile.


Can DNA testing be performed on a baby before giving birth?

Yes. DNA paternity testing can be done before the baby is born via chorionic villus sampling (CVS) as early as the tenth week of pregnancy, or the same time as an amniocentesis procedure. In the same way amniocentesis may pose fetal health complications, there are some risks in performing a DNA test while the baby is still in the womb.


Do I need permission from a doctor or lawyer to have a paternity test done?

In the United States, prescriptions and court orders are not required to legally perform a DNA Paternity Test, but New York is an exception where either one is required.


How does DNA help identify paternal relationships?

Human beings sexually reproduce offspring when a male sperm cell fertilizes a female egg cell to form a unique zygote which later develops into a fetus. This fetus contains equal parts DNA from both the mother and the father. This DNA not only carries an organism’s morphological information, it also determines ancestral profile on nucleotide signature sequences. DNA Fingerprinting and DNA Typing are common DNA testing methods used to establish relationships between organisms.


How do you ensure that paternity tests are performed correctly?

The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) sets strict standards for paternity testing. 16 different genetic markers are analyzed in a laboratory setting to provide conclusive paternity test results; if a result is ambiguous, the DNA test is repeated. Certified laboratory technicians abide by specific protocol to protect the integrity and confidentiality of DNA samples.


How is DNA testing used in adoption cases?

Adoptive parents and professionals often request paternity testing to identify birth fathers for many reasons:

  • Genetically linked diseases and health complications might affect an adoptive child

  • Identifying a child’s parents is necessary to verify relinquishment

  • Birth fathers might wish to have contact with their relinquished child in the future


How old does the child need to be for paternity determination testing?

There is no age limit for DNA Testing. Even unborn children can undergo DNA paternity testing using amniotic fluid or CVS samples. Newborns can be readily tested by collecting blood from the umbilical cord on their birthday. DNA tests with buccal swab sample collection may also be performed on young children and adults. It is important to note that legal consent to provide a DNA sample is required from a child’s guardian if the child is a minor.


Is it mandatory to get DNA samples from mother?

When conducting a DNA paternity test, a mother’s sample is not required. Paternity is determined by simply comparing the DNA samples of a child and their alleged father. If the child is a minor, however, a mother’s signed consent may be legally required before the child submits their DNA sample.


Is there a confidentiality policy that ensures privacy of DNA testing results in America?

Confidentiality of DNA test results is a serious concern. To eliminate the risk of published DNA results, law enforcement officers can take legal action against laboratories that mishandle samples and reports. The nature of this information should not be shared without consent from the DNA donor.


When will I receive the paternity test results?

DNA paternity test results are usually available within 5 business days.


Can I submit toothbrushes for DNA testing?

Toothbrushes may be used to conduct a DNA paternity test, but 99% test success rate is only guaranteed for buccal and blood samples. Toothbrushes should be recently used and allowed to air dry for at least one hour before submitting into a paper bag or envelope. Toothbrush samples should then be repackaged in the provided tamper-resistant resealable bag. Proper packaging is required in order to perform the DNA test; the laboratory will send a notice if samples are not properly submitted.

What is the significance of saliva-based blood typing kits?

 At home saliva-based blood typing kits can determine an individual’s blood type without drawing blood. Blood group antigens are usually present in saliva specimens, providing a much less invasive method of identifying ABO blood types. Just like blood-based blood typing, saliva-based blood typing kits use immunoprecipitation to obtain clear, accurate results.


What are some examples of DNA uses for forensic identification?

DNA is an incredible resource for many forensic identification purposes:

  • Find suspects whose DNA matches evidence left at crime scenes

  • Exonerate people who are wrongly accused of crimes

  • Identify crime and catastrophe victims

  • Establish paternity and other family relationships

  • Classify endangered and protected species to aid wildlife officials

  • Detect bacteria and other harmful organisms and pollutants

  • Match potential organ donors with recipients in transplant programs

  • Determine pedigree for seed or livestock breeds

  • Authenticate luxury commodities, i.e. caviar and wine


Can I use your DNA test when the individuals are in different states?

Yes, it is possible to DNA test multiple individuals under the following conditions:

  1. Donor A must provide a sample someday Monday thru Thursday.

  2. Donor A’s specimen must be sent to Donor B with an overnight shipping label.

  3. Donor B must provide their sample and send both samples to the DNA testing laboratory with an overnight shipping label, Monday thru Thursday.

Although each DNA testing kit contains a prepaid 2-day shipping label, expedited overnight costs are the responsibility of the donor(s). Overnight shipping is necessary to preserve the integrity of DNA specimens. Compromised samples are not permissible to perform DNA testing.


Is there an age limit to perform a DNA test?

DNA testing can be conducted at any age. DNA can even be checked before a child is born, but pregnant mothers should consult their doctor about potential health risks associated with prenatal DNA testing.


What is a gene mutation and how does it impact paternity testing?

Genes are made up of combinations of four nucleotides:

  • Adenine

  • Cytosine

  • Guanine

  • Thymine


The order of these nucleotides determines an individual’s unique genetic sequence. In cases of mutation, one or many of these nucleotides could be changed or missing in a sequence. If a mutation occurs in one of the 16 tested DNA locations, it becomes harder to establish a genetic match between a child and their alleged parent. Too many exclusions mean specimens do not match, but when there is only one mutation, results yield a single exclusion and matches on all remaining probes. Additional probes are used to confirm suspected mutations and rule out exclusions.


What is the difference between a blood DNA test and a mouth swab DNA test?

While sample collection may vary, DNA test results should be the same no matter which specimen type is submitted. A buccal swab sample is just as accurate as a blood sample when performing a DNA paternity test, if not more so. A large volume of blood is required to collect DNA-containing white blood cells because red blood cells do not contain DNA. Buccal swab collection, on the other hand, is much less invasive and painful, and specimens are obtained with speed and ease.


Who has access to my DNA and test results?

Aside from the donor, DNA samples and DNA test results are only accessible by a trained laboratory technician. Specimens are labelled with special codes which are hard to decipher among different donors.


Does the paternity test have to be done in a laboratory?

Paternity tests must be conducted in a laboratory, but DNA samples can be obtained in the comfort and privacy of home and mailed to a DNA testing facility. Donors do not need to be physically present.


Who needs to be involved in a paternity test?

While paternity test results can be processed more quickly with a mother’s DNA sample, it is not necessary for her to provide one in order to obtain results. When a mother provides her DNA sample, her genetic sequence can be eliminated from the child’s sequence, making the father’s DNA more clearly visible.


What is a paternity test for?

The purpose of a paternity test is to identify or confirm the father of a child. Comparisons between DNA samples provide irrefutable results when determining paternity.


Can my home test results be used in court?

Yes, court admissible DNA tests can be used in legal proceedings, as they require documented proof of identity and a signed chain of custody form. Results are stored securely and confidentially.


How does the paternity test work?

Careful steps are taken to perform a DNA test:

  1. DNA is extracted from a blood, saliva, cheek cell, or cultured cell sample via centrifuge.

  2. Enzymes split the DNA sample into fragments which are placed into a gel matrix

  3. An electric current separates DNA fragments throughout the gel

  4. Separated DNA fragments are transferred to a nylon membrane

  5. The nylon membrane is exposed to a labeled DNA probe and placed against film to develop

  6. Black bands appear where DNA binds to the probe, creating a unique pattern

  7. Steps 1-6 are repeated several times with different probes to identify different DNA regions


What is the meaning of a court-admissible paternity test?

Court-admissible paternity tests are required if you believe you will need to submit DNA test results in legal proceedings. Court admissible paternity tests require proof of identity from all donors and a chain of custody form signed by a witness to the collection process.

  • One unrelated and impartial witness is required

  • Witness must conduct or observe sample collection

  • Witness and sample donors must complete and sign all required paperwork

  • Donors must be positively identified

  • Donors, witness and legal guardian (if applicable) must sign and date copies of their IDs

  • Witness must pack and seal the completed test in the provided envelope

  • Packaged samples must be shipped to TestCountry via 2nd Day Courier


Acceptable proof of photo ID may be a signed copy of any one of the following:

  • Military ID Card

  • Driver’s License

  • State or Federal ID Card

  • Birth Certificate (for child donors 3 and under)


Disclaimer: Due to changes in state and municipal laws, DNA test results are not guaranteed to be accepted by a judge as evidence. In most cases, however, correctly completed tests with verifiable witnesses are usually court-admissible. Consult with your attorney if you are concerned about the admissibility of your DNA test results.


Are my paternity test results confidential?

Paternity test results are strictly confidential and will only be released to the donor. Results from DNA paternity testing only establish a person's identity. DNA test results do not reveal any sensitive medical information. Data obtained from DNA paternity tests are never sold to third parties.


Are court-admissible DNA tests different from at home DNA test kits?

From a laboratory standpoint, there is no difference between court-admissible DNA tests and at home DNA test kits. However, if you intend to submit test results as court evidence, a witness signature, donor proof of identity, and special chain of custody procedure are required. Standard home DNA test kits can be used discreetly without involving outside parties, i.e. impartial witnesses.


What if one of the parents is deceased?

If one or both of the donor’s parents are deceased, posthumous DNA can be used to perform DNA paternity testing. This sort of testing is termed as DNA Kinship analysis.


What is the difference between an AABB accredited paternity test and an unaccredited paternity test?

Accredited laboratories through The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) must undergo rigorous inspection of their testing facility and protocol. Annual proficiency tests are required to maintain AABB accreditation. When DNA sample collection is witnessed by a neutral third party and proof of photo ID is submitted, the paternity test earns AABB accreditation. Since they do not require proof of ID or a collection witness, home DNA test kits are not AABB accredited, but they are more affordable and discreet. While DNA collection varies slightly between the two DNA test types, laboratory DNA testing procedures are 100% identical, and maintain accuracy and confidentiality.


How accurate is DNA based paternity testing?

DNA testing to determine paternity is performed using a highly accurate genetic isolation method. Genes cannot be adulterated, and DNA testing reliably establishes the identity of an alleged father with more than 99% accuracy.