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DNA Testing Frequently Asked Questions and Answers by the Dallas / Fort Worth Mall

    Court Admissible DNA Test    Home DNA Test


Frequently Asked Questions

General    Paternity Test    Accuracy    Confidentiality


What is DNA testing?
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is the genetic material in the cells of your body. Every nucleated cell has 46 chromosomes, except the sperm cells from the man and the egg of the woman which only contain 23 chromosomes each. At the moment of conception, there are 46 chromosomes necessary to create a person. Thus, a person receives half of his/her genetic material or DNA from the biological mother, and the other half from the biological father.
DNA paternity testing is much more than a blood test. It can be performed on a much wider variety of samples, including blood cells, cheek cells, tissue samples, and semen. Since blood types, such as A, B, O, and Rh, are more common within the population, the power to differentiate individuals is not as high as with DNA paternity testing. Every person's DNA is unique except for identical twins. Since it is so specific, just like a fingerprint, DNA paternity testing is the most powerful form of testing. Our results are often 10 to 100 times more accurate than what the courts require.
What if the tested parties are in different cities?
With the court admissible method of collection there is an extensive network of local specimen collection facilities across the country. Scheduling departments will coordinate appointments for the clients at local hospitals or laboratories. The samples will be coordinated as a single testing case when they arrive at the laboratory.
With the home DNA test kit, we ask that the samples be taken and sent to the lab within two weeks of each other (for best results).  Samples have been tested up to 1 year old with positive results.
It is the purchasers responsibility to collect the samples if parties are in different locations.  The kit must be received by the lab using the mailer that comes with the kit with all samples necessary to complete the test.
If you are attempting to use the legal chain of custody with individuals in different locations, have the professional organization which takes the samples, seal and initial a closed envelope containing the samples.  They would then mail this to the purchaser of the kit so all samples will be collected prior to sending the complete kit to the lab.  If any sealed envelopes have been opened or tampered with, the lab will not provide results that might be admissible in a court of law.
Are genetic tests valid when performed on a child under the age of six months?
Yes, as long as certain tests are avoided. The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) specifically states that children under six months of age may not be tested for the serum proteins Gm and Km. Other tests can be accurately performed on children under six months of age, including red cell antigens, leukocyte antigens (HLA), and DNA.
Is there a six month age requirement?
The six month delay was common procedure because of the difficulty of drawing blood from small infants and due to the AABB requirement stated above.
If a child is under six months, can DNA testing be done using a specimen other than blood?
Buccal swabs or cord blood collected at birth can be used and allow for rapid and reliable testing regardless of age.
How does a buccal swab sample differ from a blood sample?
For purposes of identity testing, there is no difference in DNA derived from buccal swabs or blood. However, non-DNA tests, such as HLA, are not run on buccal samples.
Are you collecting spit for testing when a buccal swab is done?
Although some saliva is contained on the buccal swabs, one is actually collecting epithelial cells off the cheeks inside the mouth (buccal cavity).
Won’t the buccal swabs be contaminated since they are collected from the mouth?
The DNA testing performed is not affected by the DNA of bacteria, common foods, tobacco, or mother’s milk.
What are the odds of a mismatch of samples?
Good laboratory practices that incorporate exclusion confirmation, duplicate testing of independent specimen preparations, or require exclusions in different genetic systems, help prevent and detect mismatched specimens. Every lab used by is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks,
How many test systems should be run to detect an exclusion?
The genetic systems selected for routine testing exclude at least 99.5% of falsely accused men from paternity. Testing is extended to include more genetic systems until probability of paternity is greater than 99% or two exclusions are demonstrated in separate genetic systems.
Are any other tests, such as AIDS testing conducted at the time the genetic testing is performed?
No other tests are performed.
Why can’t a simple genetic test, conducted in a physician’s office, be used to determine paternity?
Genetic analysis is more complex than most physicians’ office laboratories are capable of handling.
What is the difference between HLA and DNA testing?.
HLA analysis tests antigens found on the surface of the white cells (leukocytes), whereas DNA measures the actual genetic sequences found in the body’s nucleated cells, by analyzing the blood’s white cells or the mouth’s squamous epithelial buccal cells.
Can a sample that is over six months old still be used for testing?
Traditional tests for red cell antigens and HLA cannot be used. DNA analysis will be successful depending on how the specimen was stored, the source of the specimen, and whether PCR-based tests are used.
Can the reliable testing be performed when the parties are drawn at different times?
Current DNA technology requires that all parties be run at the same time in order to make appropriate reliable comparisons. Specimens collected earlier may not be available in the laboratory. In HLA testing, new antigens are defined on a regular basis, and the laboratories' ability to define various HLA antigens changes with time making it difficult to make comparisons with specimens collected at different times.
Can sources of specimens be different in a case?
DNA testing can use different sources because DNA markers are the same in all the body’s nucleated cells.
How long are buccal specimens good for future testing?
Based on the success of testing dried blood stains, we anticipate that dried buccal specimens will offer the same stability (can be tested years after specimen has been taken).
What if I need a formal court admissible test after using the home DNA test.
Statistics show that a formal test is rarely required.  When the involved parties discover and accept the results, expensive follow-on court action for a paternity test is usually not required.  Contact your attorney for more information.


Paternity Test

What is paternity?
Paternity means fatherhood. Paternity is established when a paternity testing laboratory uses genetic testing methods to demonstrate, to a legal standard, that an alleged father is the biological father. Paternity is disproved when these same methods and standards demonstrate that an alleged father is not the biological father.
How much does the test cost?
The kit costs $280 which includes testing for the Mother, Alleged Father, and Child.  The Mother does not have to be tested but is recommended if she is available (the price is the same).
How long does it take for the results?
The lab requires 2 weeks to complete the test unless there is a complication such as a rare gene.  The results are then mailed to you which adds a few additional days.  If you test has to be sent back to testing due to complications, it could take an additional 10 days. 
Does the child have to be a certain age to perform a DNA paternity test?
There are no age restrictions with DNA paternity testing. Traditional blood testing required that a child should be at least six months old. In addition, a large sample, usually two big tubes of blood, was required. This would be very difficult on a small child. However, DNA paternity testing only requires a few drops of blood (1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon), or cheek cells collected by swabbing the mouth. This small amount of blood, or cheek swab, permits the testing of newborns and infants. Since DNA is set at conception, a paternity test can be performed before the child is born, through Chorionic Villi Sampling (CVS) or Amniocentesis.
Paternity testing can also be performed using post-mortem specimens collected by the coroner's office. A paternity test can be done when that person is deceased or missing by reconstructing his/her DNA patterns with samples from the deceased's biological relatives.
Can the paternity test be performed without the mother?
YES. DNA paternity testing is so powerful that testing can be performed when the mother is not available. The fee for a paternity test is the same with or without the mother. If she is not tested, and the patterns between the child and the alleged father do not match, then he is still 100% excluded from being the biological father. If the patterns match, we can calculate a 99% or greater probability of paternity. The person who brings a minor in for testing must provide identification for the child and sign a form indicating that s/he has the legal authority to have the child tested.
Do I need a doctor's order or attorney's note to have the paternity test performed?
NO. Although we frequently confer and collaborate with attorneys and doctors and many of our cases do involve them, they are not required for you to have the paternity test.
Can paternity testing be performed before the child is born?
YES. With DNA analysis, paternity testing can be performed prior to the birth of a child. DNA testing can be done with a Chorionic Villi Sample (CVS), which is generally performed around 10 to 13 weeks of pregnancy, or through Amniocentesis, generally performed 14 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Either of these procedures would have to be performed by an OB/GYN.  Any woman interested in prenatal DNA testing should discuss these procedures with an OB/GYN.
How does the paternity testing process work?
DNA is extracted from a few drops of blood, cheek cells, or cultured cells. Enzymes are used to cut the DNA sample into fragments, which are then placed into a gel matrix. An electric current drives the fragments across the gel - the smallest fragments move the farthest, while the largest move the least distance. The seperated DNA fragments are transferred to a nylon membrane, which is exposed to a labeled DNA probe, a short piece of customized DNA that recognizes and binds to a unique segment of the tested person's DNA. This nylon membrane is placed against a film which, when developed, reveals black bands where the probes are bound to the DNA. The visible band pattern of the child is unique - half matches the mother and half matches the father. The process is repeated several times, with each probe identifying a different area in the DNA and producing a distinct pattern. Using several probes, greater than 99.9% certainty about paternity or identity can be acheived.
Since the probability of paternity reported on the test results is always less than 100%, how can we definitely say that the alleged father is truly the biological father?
The closer to 100% the reported value is, the greater the certainty of paternity. In addition, social evidence is considered in conduction with laboratory findings.
Can parentage be established for a deceased individual?
If blood or buccal swabs are collected at the time of death, and shipped immediately to the laboratory, standard testing can be performed.
Exclusionary or inclusionary testing can be performed if the mother is deceased although numerous additional tests would be necessary. The mother’s parents may also be tested in order to improve the statistical evaluation or confirm maternity.
If the alleged father is deceased, his parents can be tested to exclude them from grandparentage. An alternative is to generate paternity reports based on transplant list (such as heart, kidney or bone marrow), HLA typings, tissue specimens from previous surgeries, or blood types from medical records.
Alleged fathers who die in motor vehicle accidents often have specimens collected for toxicology studies. Such specimens or tissue samples from autopsy, obtained from the coroner's office, are successfully used to determine parentage.
As a last resort, the body can be exhumed and a tissue sample removed.
Will HLA or DNA testing help define fatherhood in a case where two alleged fathers are identical twins?
The father cannot be differentiated by these tests if the two men are identical twins.
Will HLA or DNA testing help define fatherhood in a case where two alleged fathers are fraternal (nonidenitcal) twins?
Yes, both HLA and DNA could differentiate between two alleged fathers who are fraternal twins, but DNA has more power to distinguish between such close relatives.
Will testing also show if the mother is excluded from maternity?
Although rare, several confirmed cases of non-maternity have been found during routine testing. Most of these appear to relate to an aunt or other custodian presenting the child for testing and then being tested as the mother. Some instances may reflect potential welfare fraud.
If an alleged father is drawn from one case, but his results are needed for another case, can his findings be used in both cases?
Yes, there are some limitations as indicated below.
If the mother and alleged father are related, does this make any difference in the testing?
No. When mother and alleged father are related, the testing is valid and, depending on the degree of relationship, may actually be better for detecting a falsely accused man.
If two alleged fathers are related (brother-brother, father-son, or nephew-uncle), is the testing valid?
The laboratory must be informed of the circumstances, because it is possible for both men to have the same or similar genetic markers, even when DNA analysis is performed until one man is excluded. Related alleged fathers should be tested at the same time until one is excluded.
What determines the number of tests in parentage testing?
Current AABB standards state that the tests used shall exclude, on average, at least 95% of falsely accused men, regardless of tests used (serum proteins, RBC, HLA, and/or DNA). Contract requirements also affect the number of tests performed. Testing can exclude, on average, 99.7% of falsely accused men. Additional tests may be run if the probability of paternity is lower after initial testing or other factors indicate additional testing. The sending agency must inform the laboratory if any factors exist that might influence the amount of testing, such as related alleged fathers.



How accurate is DNA paternity testing?
A DNA paternity test is the most accurate form of paternity testing possible. If the DNA patterns between the child and the alleged father do not match on two or more DNA probes, then that alleged father is 100% excluded which means he has a 0% probability of paternity--he cannot be the biological father of the child.
Is the mouth/buccal swab accurate?
An alternative to testing blood is a method of sample collection called buccal (cheek) swab. Since the DNA is the same in every cell of the body, the accuracy of testing performed on cheek cells collected with a swab is the same as using the blood. The sample is collected by using a buccal swab and gently massaging the inside of the mouth. DNA can be extracted from this sample. This procedure is non-invasive and painless.  This is the method used by the home test kit.
If the DNA patterns between the mother, child and the alleged father match on every DNA probe, then we are able to calculate a probability of paternity of 99.9% or greater. This result indicates that he is "practically proven" to be the biological father of the child. Most of all the courts in the U.S. accepts 99.0% as proof of paternity.
For more information on accuracy please click here.



Are the paternity test results confidential?
Yes, test results are strictly confidential. They are released only to the adult persons who were tested and, as requested, to their authorized agents (e.g. attorneys).
All kits shipped to the 50 US States in a FedEx or Airborne Express box with no external markings pertaining to the contents.
We email customers when their order has shipped by request only.  
No follow-on activity is initiated except by customer request.


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Last modified: September 09, 2011