15 Important Things Everyone Should Know About Paternity Testing


One of the most stressful things for a woman to experience is getting pregnant and not knowing who the father is. This can be a result of dating several people at once, having a sexually non-monogamous relationship, or even if a woman is raped by someone she doesn’t know.

If a woman becomes pregnant and has no idea who the father is it can lead to a lot of obvious concerns. Luckily, in recent years, it’s incredibly easy to tell who the father is with simple paternity tests that are becoming more and more accessible by the year.

Paternity tests can be used to determine whether or not someone is really a person’s child, who someone’s father is, and essentially just matches up paternity. This can be extremely useful in everything from easing a mother’s fears to helping police identify rapists by knowing who the father of a baby born of rape is. All in all it’s a hugely useful tool and many people use it now.

There are, however, a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about paternity testing. In this article, we’re going to address some of the myths about paternity testing and give all the information necessary on how they work, where to get them, and answer a few commonly asked questions as to what they do and the kind of information they provide.

Many people are surprised by the simplicity behind the whole ordeal and even in the science itself — and it’s becoming simpler by the minute as technology improves.

15 What It Uses

Paternity testing isn’t quite the same thing as a pregnancy test or drug test. Paternity testing might use the same methods as some drug tests, but what it’s looking for is very different. Paternity tests use DNA, short for deoxyribonucleic acid, to identify similarities in the DNA of two people. The trick of this is that DNA is foolproof. Contrary to popular belief, nothing can alter a person’s DNA from the moment they are born.

Because of the fact that DNA doesn’t change from the moment a person is born to the moment a person dies, it’s the perfect thing to use as a medium to test. Essentially it’s a system of different small parts that make up a series of unique strands. Every single person has unique DNA in every single cell in their body. For this reason, DNA can’t be mistaken for other DNA or match another person’s exactly. The only exception would be identical twins who share the same DNA.

14 Patterns

When people using DNA testing in a paternity test to determine relation, they’re looking for patterns in DNA. Remember, no DNA is an exact match to another person’s.

However, since we get our genetic makeup from our parents, it will be more than ninety-nine point nine percent similar to theirs. There are small parts of DNA called amino acids that are put together in specific patterns, and this is what makes every person’s DNA unique.

Every person has their four amino acids put together in a different manner. There are essentially endless ways to put them together. Because the variety is so enormous, it makes it obvious when two people are related. Their DNA will match up almost completely with a few variables to be given based on the nature of how DNA works.

Once DNA experts can locate a pattern, they can locate a match for paternity tests or even sibling tests.

13 Blood Tests

There are a few different ways to get DNA tests done professionally or at home. The method of test has little bearing on whether or not the test will be accurate. After all, the only thing that needs to happen is obtaining the DNA. The method of how exactly that happens is almost inconsequential.

One of the more antiquated forms of obtaining DNA is getting a blood sample to run through a lab and process.

Getting a blood sample, of course, can be a little painful. Usually it will be done via a small prick in the finger. Some labs might draw a decent amount of blood with an intravenous method through the lower arm. This will draw a larger amount of blood, which can used for more testing andcan give experts more to work with, but it isn’t necessary to obtain DNA this way and in fact might be impractical.

12 Swabbing For DNA

Via: flickr.com

Many people are hesitant around needles and don’t really like the idea of getting blood drawn. This is a common phobia and source of discomfort and is entirely understandable; the process can be painful. However, the more modern and reliable way to get DNA nowadays is to do a cheek swab.

Cheek swabs are specific in model and make; they aren’t just q-tips or cotton balls that you’ll find in your medicine cabinet.

These things that are specifically designed for the task of collecting DNA will simply be swabbed against the inside of the cheek. It’s non-invasive and takes a matter of seconds to swab out the DNA. Usually doctors will collect it from the inside of the cheek where things grow more easily and saliva isn’t moved around as often.

A little gross, yes, but entirely painless and, more important, just as accurate as a blood sample. It’s fast, easy and painless.

11 Accuracy

Many people are understandably concerned with the accuracy of paternity tests. If the paternity test is wrong, a person might get roped into years of child support that they don’t want. A mother might incorrectly marry someone based on who they believe the father is in an attempt to create a family. A child might even develop a relationship with the ‘wrong’ person because of a fluke test.

These are huge concerns and if paternity tests were inaccurate they would be reasonable concerns.

However, it’s important to remember that paternity tests don’t lie. Even the ones that can be done at home are met with an almost one hundred percent accuracy. The reason for this is, as we discussed earlier, that the tests go over DNA.

DNA can’t be changed or altered, and it can’t be incorrectly interpreted. A match is a match with DNA, no question, so the accuracy of paternity tests is undeniably incredible and almost always accurate.

10 Length

Sometimes paternity tests are administered with a time constraint involved. A woman might want to get a paternity test done as soon as possible in order to secure child support. A person might not know who their father is and desperately need information. Either way, time is a factor in most paternity testing.

Luckily, most paternity tests can come back within the same day or, in other cases, it might take a week. However, it shouldn’t take longer than a week.

A doctor’s office will be able to get the results back to a person within the day, in most cases. If a person is doing a paternity test from home and mailing it to a lab, it might take seven days or so to process.

This is also true if a doctor’s office can’t process the test there and has to send it to a lab. Then, that lab will take time to turn the test back around. Nonetheless it’s pretty quick when considering that it’s literally matching DNA together.

9 Interpretation

There are many different concerns as to the accuracy of DNA tests. One thing that people wonder about is whether or not a paternity test can be interpreted incorrectly. A father who doesn’t want to be identified as a father might say that the paternity test is bunk. They might claim that the wrong doctor looked at it, or that the lab ran the test wrong.

Therefore, it’s not worth looking at, and the interpretation alone is the cause of failure.

This, to put it bluntly, isn’t true. It’s not really possible to have different ‘interpretations’ of a paternity test. It’s not like reading fiction, where everyone is right in what they think it says. DNA tests are black-and-white in how they present information. It’s either a match based on a set of patterns or it isn’t a match based on a set of patterns.

There’s little wiggle room unless there was a fluke in the performance of the test itself, and even then, that’s unlikely.

8 Cost

When people think about going to the doctor and getting a test done, it puts a damper on things financially. Many doctor’s procedures can be hugely expensive. Between the copay for the doctor’s time and appointment making and the procedure, without insurance or without insurance that covers that procedure, people often spend thousands of dollars on things they can’t avoid getting.

Paternity tests, however, are not nearly so daunting in price.

Usually paternity tests at a doctor’s office and laboratory can cost anywhere from one to three hundred dollars. Some insurance companies will cover this and some won’t; communication is key to saving dollars on this issue. Some online companies will do drug tests at home that the taker will ship to the company to have processed at a lab.

Most of the cost of the test has to do with the laboratory and its equipment processing cost. However, it’s worth it, since the test is always accurate and won’t need multiple ‘takes.’

7 Home Kits

As we mentioned earlier, there are some companies that offer DNA tests that can be taken at home. This is nice for people who know that they don’t have a laboratory near their home. In addition, it can save money by avoiding the copay at a doctor’s office.

These online companies will send a DNA test, and then after the customer takes the sample according to instructions and using the equipment provided, they’ll send it back. The test will take five to seven days to process on average, and then they’ll mail the customer the results.

These tests are every bit as accurate as ones taken at a doctor’s office. The price is usually similar or a bit cheaper. There’s no concern about whether or not the reading will be better or worse. In addition, DNA won’t be altered or changed by heat or bumping around in packaging. Nothing can really change the structure of DNA. In fact, it takes special chemical enzymes to break DNA apart and change it, and any structural changes to DNA will occur before birth.

6 Laboratories

We’ve mentioned the process of getting DNA tests done. Each time, laboratories have been brought up, both as the source of most of the cost and as the reason that it can take a little while to process. Labs are important parts of the medical world and are always used with DNA testing because that’s where DNA testing equipment is kept and maintained.

Some doctor’s offices might be equipped to run the tests, but most often, they will not be.

These laboratories are often run outside of doctor’s offices. Doctor’s offices will have certain labs that they use or defer patients to. Sometimes patients will be sent straight to the lab to have blood drawn or their cheeks swabbed. This can save money on a copay and prevent the doctor from taking up time doing something that a technician at the lab could do.

Laboratories process everything from blood to urine to stool and it takes a ton of training to learn to monitor the equipment.

5 No Pain Necessary

Via: flickr.com

People shy away from getting medical procedures done, especially ones that are obviously invasive, to avoid pain. A fear of needles, namely, is one that many people share. We talked earlier about how getting blood drawn can hurt. People experience a huge array of reactions when it comes to getting blood drawn.

However, with DNA testing, pain doesn’t have to be present at all. Because the method of extracting DNA is almost irrelevant, a cheek swab is just as good as a blood sample.

A cheek swab is just a piece of cotton run through the mouth. It doesn’t hurt at all by any stretch of the imagination. It’s no worse than brushing teeth, if not even gentler. Pain isn’t a concern anymore when it comes to getting paternity tests done. For this reason, more people feel comfortable taking them, knowing that they won’t have a nervous reaction in the office.

4 Relationship

Getting a paternity test isn’t a purely medical procedure. Well, getting the lab work done is, but the process in the home is different. Women often are frightened to ask for paternity tests for a number of reasons. They might not want to scare their partner off or make a man think that they’re trying to trick them into staying with them.

A lot of men have the false impression that women will lie to get them to pay child support for a child that isn’t even theirs.

The key to avoiding this is to have good communication with a partner. If a woman is in a relationship that isn’t monogamous or committed, she should be aware of the risks that can come with that. If she is in a committed monogamous relationship, it’s important to keep a steady level of understanding with that person.

That way, when a question like this comes up, it won’t be a shock or devastation to the relationship.

3 Who Takes It

Via: flickr.com

A lot of women who can’t get their partners to take a paternity test will panic in the belief that if the man doesn’t take it, the test can’t be done. And this makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, if DNA is unique for every person, it would require the exact person to get the test right.

This isn’t true, though! A partner’s DNA will be almost identical to that of his siblings and to that of his parents, ideally his father. This is because everyone gets their DNA from their parents.

If a woman can’t get DNA from the partner, she can turn to his siblings. If they can’t provide DNA, parents will do. The further away from the person the woman gets, the less easy it will be to secure a match. However, it won’t be impossible, and it’s definitely possible to get a surefire match to the man without having the DNA from that exact man.

2 Blood Type Versus DNA

This topic will address one of the common myths that surfaces when it comes to paternity tests. Remember, paternity tests are determined by matching up DNA. Some people think that because blood is drawn in some cases (we know now that this isn’t the case anymore for the most part), blood types indicate relation.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Matching blood type is not any better indicator of relation to another person than is having the same sized shoe.

The reason for this is that blood type is based on DNA, but DNA is not based on blood type. For example, a person is guaranteed to have the same blood type as thousands of other people — that’s why blood banks exist — but no one has the same DNA. DNA plays a role in assigning blood type, not the other way around.

Because paternity tests don’t use blood type, blood type isn’t an indicator of relation, even though blood type can be passed down genetically.

1 Expert Opinion

We’ve discussed the different types of paternity testing and how it’s conducted. We’ve sorted out the different places that a person can get it done and addressed a few of the myths surrounding paternity testing. One question that still remains, though, is what exactly experts have to say about paternity testing.

After all, it can be done via the Internet and shipping without even talking to a doctor on behalf of the person getting the test.

Experts agree that paternity testing is not only safe, but accurate. DNA tests are a surefire way to tell whether or not someone is the father or son or daughter of someone else. The science backing it up is too bulletproof to refute. Even if a person gets the test done in their own home, the laboratory that processes that test is run by professionals.

Ultimately it will be done by people that know what they’re doing, and so the tests are, in the end, agreed to be foolproof and recommended.

Sources: DNA Testing.com, MyDNATest.com, DiscoverMagazine.com, NY Times.com

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