The Myths of Paternity Testing

Today DNA paternity tests have become that most reliable and accurate means of determining biological relationships between an alleged father and a child. Given its widespread use and a recent direct-to-consumer service, one expects to find myths and misconceptions about this type of testing.

Below are some of the most common misconceptions about the paternity test which we hope to clarify for you. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have:

I need to have blood taken for a DNA test

The days of blood DNA tests are somewhat over and DNA testing with blood is rarely carried out. Originally, the first DNA tests where carried out with samples of blood taken via medical blood draws- this was because DNA testing methods in those days required a large sample with which to work. Advances in DNA testing technology mean that today there is the harmless and painless buccal swab. Scientists  use a DNA replication and amplification technique known as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) which enable them to work with minute DNA samples. A cotton bud like utensil that is rubbed on the inner cheeks and send to be analyzed in a laboratory.  Paternity DNA tests are far quicker and simple using oral swabs- moreover, sample collection with oral swabs do not require the assistance of a doctor or phlebotomist.

It is not possible to do DNA testing on an unborn child

Though this is possible it is a rather thorny issue. The procedure is invasive and involves taking cell samples from inside the mother’s womb. Cells are normally gather form either the placenta, the organ which gives the child food and oxygen, or from loose fetal cells. Any samples gathered have to be analyzed very quickly as samples cannot be kept for long. The procedure has a small risk factor- the child can be harmed. Though the risk is small, it is there. Some DNA testing companies have offered this service in the past but chose to do away with it for the above reasons and moreover, for reasons of ethicality. Parents might choose to abort the child should the results not favor their expectations. One should be heavily critical of companies offering pre-natal DNA testing using techniques which are non-invasive as these are not scientifically or medically grounded.

What about confidentiality?

These tests are as confidential as you want them to be. When you buy a home DNA kit you are responsible for taking the samples and returning them to be processed in laboratories. When results are returned, they are returned specifically to the address the buyer stipulated. After that, what the buyer of the DNA test does with the results is up to them. Companies providing DNA testing services guarantee total confidentiality as they understand how delicate and stressful a matter this can be. However, when doing a legal paternity test, one must bear in mind that these will have to appear in court and handed amongst various legal entities. The issue of confidentiality is logically diminished in such cases.

The lengthy wait for results must be nerve-wrecking

Once the samples of the swabs with the DNA are sent back, it is only a matter of days till they are returned with the results. Of course, there are issues of postage involved but usually the differences here are negligible. Once the swabs are returned with the DNA samples, the results can be expected within 5 to 7 days. Receiving the kit in the first place is another issue. The time here depends on the efficiency of postal services which vary from country to country, whether one opts for courier mail, any strikes there might be.

If there is not father then there can be no paternity DNA test

In the case of an absent, deceased or unwilling father, other members of the alleged father’s family can be tested using what is known as avuncular DNA testing, a substitute test for the standard DNA paternity test. The genetic profiles of the aunt, uncle or grandparent can be used and compared with that of the alleged father’s child. If both the father’s parents are tested, it is possible to re-create the alleged father’s genetic profile and this taken for comparison with the child’s DNA.