With the rise of the celebrity lifestyle and the press intrusion into that lifestyle we are hearing more and more about paternity testing in the news, but what really is this all about?
Paternity testing looks at the DNA of the mother, the child and any alleged fathers of that child to see if there are some matching elements of DNA from all three individual genetic samples..
There are many reasons that someone would wish to take a paternity test such as child maintenance or custody.
The first type of paternity test is the home or peace of mind DNA test. This is where a laboratory sends the testing apparatus out to your home and you test the test yourself. The testing apparatus usually consists of mouth swabs. You will take one swab for an individual and rub this swab on the inside of the mouth several times. This will collect cell tissue from the individual concerned. This is then placed in an envelope and sealed. The procedure is repeated for all parties involved. At this point all the envelopes are sealed and posted back to the laboratory for testing.
There are approximately 16 genetic markers that the paternity testing laboratory will use to match them with the marker of the alleged father. Human genetic markers are a combination of both of male and female biological parents, so a paternity test can be determined without any sample being provided by the mother although this grants greater test accuracy. A simple paternity test for paternity can be received the next working day from the date the DNA sample is received by the laboratory but most test results take up to 5 days to be received.
A legal DNA test follows a similar procedure, but the swabs must be taken and sealed in tamper proof envelopes by a third party such as a doctor or nurse. Some laboratories have a network of nurses available and they can arrange for the samples to be taken from the individuals even if the relationship has broken down and the samples need to be taken from separate addresses.
The nurse or doctor will take the samples as before and seal them in individual envelopes and take the sample donors details. At this point the nurse or doctor will take copies of each individual's identification such as a driving licence or passport. They may even take a photograph of the individuals for identification purposes.
All this is then sealed and returned to the laboratory for testing. The testing process is a strict one and each step of the testing process is recorded including information like the name of the individual who is testing the DNA sample and the time of the test. With each step of the testing procedure of the testing process being recorded if the paternity test results are disputed in a court of law there will be full accountability.
When choosing a DNA testing company to work with, laboratory accreditation is very important. Accredited laboratories are registered with Government bodies and show that they maintain their equipment and it is properly calibrated for accuracy, conduct inspections and audits, and undergo both external and internal reviews. ISO certification is an example of such accreditation within the UK. Those laboratories taking the time to earn accreditation have also earned prominence and typically have 100% accuracy for use in UK courts.
Whichever type of DNA test you decide to have it's always best to speak to someone first. Most laboratories will have a confidential helpline who will guide you to the correct product for your needs. Of if you are going through legal procedures speak to your legal representative who will guide and even arrange the paternity test on your behalf.
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