How to do a Paternity Test: the Basics

If you have been wondering how to do a paternity test here are a few basic considerations to bear in mind. First of all you need to know whether you need the paternity test for legal purposes or just for curiosity purposes. If you are not undertaking any legal proceedings and only harbor doubts about the paternity of a child then you can settle things by doing a simple and discreet, peace of mind test.

How do I collect DNA samples?

Once you have decided on the type of paternity test you need, the following step will involve the use of a DNA test kit which will enable you to collect the DNA samples. If you are however, doing a legal test or a prenatal paternity test you will not be collecting samples yourself.  If it is a home test, online paternity testing companies will send out a kit and you can easily collect samples yourself. The kit contains oral swabs which are today the most commonly used method for collecting DNA samples. The swabs must be rubbed inside the mouth and under the tongue. There are some very basic precautions to follow which include not eating, drinking or smoking for 1 hour prior to taking DNA samples. The DNA sampling procedure and precautions will be pretty much the same whichever company you choose.  Whilst you can carry out the paternity test without the mother’s sample, ideally her sample should be included. In your home test kit you will also have some very basic paper work to fill out; the forms you fill out will need to be returned to the laboratory along with the samples.

The Human Tissue Act

The UK is one of the very few countries that have laws which regulate DNA testing. The law is known as the Human Tissue Act and it deters DNA theft. In most countries, anyone can provide somebody else’s DNA sample for a test without informing the person from whom that sample came. This is unlawful in the UK and harsh penalties could ensure for those committing such a crime. For more information about the Human Tissue Act, click here.

Paternity testing: analysis and results

Once samples are received it is only a matter of a few days till you get your DNA test results. Once your DNA samples are at the lab the DNA in the samples needs to extracted from the cells, the DNA is the replicated through the use of an enzyme and amplified using what is called Polymerase Chain Reaction or PCR. The result is easy to understand. First and foremost, most results follow very much the same template: the genetic markers are analyzed and the DNA profiles of the father, child and the mother drawn up.

The child and father will have to share all their genetic markers if he is the biological father of the child. To make things even clearer, it is pretty much standard to show a probability of paternity expressed as a percentage. This probability can be either of 99.9% and higher, indicating that the tested man is the biological father of the child or the paternity test result can indicate a probability of 0% meaning that the tested man is not the biological father of the child.