Paternity DNATest Guide

Paternity DNA Test Summary
What: Paternity tests provide certainty about who is or is not one’s father.
Who: Anyone interested in confirming paternity can use a paternity DNA test.
Where: Tests are available worldwide in medical offices, laboratories and online.
When: Paternity DNA tests can be done as early as the 10th week of pregnancy.
How: DNA is collected from both the father and child and then is compared for similarities.
Type: DNA can be collected using amniocentesis or CVS during pregnancy, or using blood or saliva for a child or adult.
Why: Paternity DNA tests help provide confirmation that someone is a biological father. Time: Test results take approximately three to five days. Amniocentesis or CVS results may take longer.
Time: Results are usually available in 3 to 5 days.
Language: Not applicable.
Preparation: No preparation is needed for a DNA test, though rinsing one’s mouth prior to a cheek swab is recommended.
Cost: Costs range from $100 to over $2,000.

By: Erin Hasinger, Tests.com


Paternity DNA tests are a way to prove with 99 percent certainty that a man is the biological father of a particular person. Any person interested in proving or disproving alleged paternity can participate in a paternity test. DNA from both the father and child are needed in a paternity DNA test.


Paternity tests may be sought for a number of reasons. In addition to the benefit of having a relationship with one’s father, knowing definitively who one’s father is can help provide a complete medical history as well as access to benefits such as child support, health insurance, social security or an inheritance.


In many states, when a child is born to an unmarried couple, an Acknowledgement of Paternity form must be completed in the hospital so that a father can be listed on the birth certificate. Even if the person listed is not the biological father, they become legally responsible for supporting the child unless this document is amended. The Acknowledgement of Paternity form can only be amended following a court-approved paternity DNA test.


If the mother is recently divorced or gives birth to a baby who is fathered by someone other than her husband, the Acknowledgement of Paternity form is used both for the biological father to acknowledge paternity and for the husband or recent ex-husband to deny paternity. Many times, the court system is needed to oversee and establish true paternity.


Paternity DNA tests may be done in many different ways. A DNA test can be done before a baby is born through either amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.


During chorionic villus sampling, or CVS, a thin tube or needle is inserted into the uterus through the cervix to gather chorionic villi, which are pieces of tissue that are attached to the uterine wall. This test can be done between the 10th and 13th weeks of pregnancy and must be done by a medical doctor.


During amniocentesis, a needle is inserted into the uterus through the abdomen to withdrawal a small amount of fluid that can be tested for DNA. Amniocentesis can only be done between the 14th and 20th weeks of pregnancy and must be done by a medical doctor. There are small risks of miscarriage or harm to the baby, as well as risks to the mother of bleeding, cramping or leaking of fluid.


Following birth, DNA may be collected from an infant using blood, a cheek swab or the umbilical cord. For the alleged father or an older child, collection is most often done with a cheek swab, but can be done using blood, hair, semen or other tissue.


Once DNA samples have been collected, they are compared in a laboratory for similarities. DNA tests can provide up to 99.99 percent certainty that one is a father, and can also provide 100 percent certainty that one is not a father.


Paternity DNA tests are widely available worldwide. Those seeking a DNA test should verify that the company they are using will have the DNA tested in a laboratory approved by the American Association of Blood Banks. DNA and collection can be done in a lab, or one can order a home test kit in which they self-collect DNA, usually using a simple cheek swab, and then return it to the laboratory for analysis.


When seeking paternity for a court-related matter, one must ensure that the test selected is court-approved. Many labs offer tests that are approved for legal matters, and others that are simply for informational purposes. The cost of informational tests tends to be lower than those for court-related testing.


Paternity tests range in price depending on how the test is performed and where one lives. Prenatal testing is more expensive than postnatal testing, and can cost upwards of $2,000. Home test kits that use a cheek swab can cost as low as $100. Costs increase when a court-approved test is needed, or when more people are to be tested. Results tend to be available within three to five days, and an official report will be mailed to the participants.


To learn more about paternity DNA testing or to find a test facility or home test kit, see the Paternity DNA Test Directory.


Sources: DNA Center, American Pregnancy Association