Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Types of Paternity Tests

Establishing paternity is extremely important. Not only will knowing your child’s father 100% help you establish child support and other benefits for your child, but it will help you hold your child’s father responsible for other situations as well. Below are the types of paternity tests.

DNA Testing

DNA is the most popular form of paternity tests. These tests can be done before the child is born or after. Before the child is born, there are a few different tests. A sampling of the fetal genetic material can be taken through the cervix at around five weeks of pregnancy and used to determine who the child’s father is. Later in the pregnancy, a physician can take a sample of amniotic fluid to determine who the father is. These tests are invasive and pose risks, so it’s better to wait until after the child is born.

After the child is born, a sample can be collected by swabbing the child’s cheek with a buccal swab. The DNA present will be compared to the DNA of the father and the mother. This test can tell who the father is with more than 99% accuracy.

Blood Tests

Blood tests can also generally tell who the child’s biological father is, although it’s not thought to be as conclusive as DNA testing. The type of blood and the antigens determine whether the child belongs to a particular man or not. There are many benefits to establishing paternity and with at-home paternity tests, it is much less expensive than it was in the past.

Non Invasive Paternity Testing

Looking for non invasive paternity testing? Aside from an amniocentesis and chorionic villus test, there is another test that is can be used to establish the paternity of a child. This is the umbilical cord test. It’s known as cordocentesis. This can be done at 18 weeks of pregnancy.

The physician will use a camera to determine where the fetus’s umbilical cord enters the amniotic sac. Using a needle, the physician will find the correct spot and then extract a very small amount of the fetal cord blood. This blood is then tested and compared to the potential father’s DNA.

This non invasive paternity test does come with some risks, as do any other invasive tests. However, you should know that it’s a test that is done very regularly with minimal problems. It’s important to speak with your doctor to determine the risks and to determine whether you’re healthy enough to undergo this kind of testing. You can also discuss other options and together, determine which is the best test for you and your unique situation.

Some of the risks of having the baby’s cord blood tested for paternity include premature membrane rupture, bleeding, infection, and a lower fetal heart rate. Whether you decide to go ahead with this procedure or wait until the baby is born to establish paternity, it is important to find out for sure who the baby’s biological father is.

Not only will this provide you with important information regarding the baby’s medical history, but it will help you with legal issues like child support and custody. 

Establishing DNA Paternity Test Results

You might have a dozen different arguments against establishing paternity. For instance, you might not need or want the child support that you could legally force your child’s biological father to pay. He may not want custody, so there may not be a need to establish paternity for that reason. However, you should consider establishing paternity for your child’s benefit. After all, there is nothing like establishing DNA paternity test results and knowing hands down the real deal about your child's paternity. Here's some tips:

At the Doctor

Your child’s doctor will want to know your child’s full medical history – that includes the history from your side of the family and the paternal side of the family. This information can become invaluable if anything should happen and your child would need a major medical procedure. This is one of the reasons for establishing paternity that can truly benefit your child.

In the Future

We all want to know where we came from and who our parents are. Even if you have a partner that your child thinks of as his or her father it’s important for your child to know who their actual biological father is. As the child ages, he or she will begin to ask questions and it’s important that you’re able to answer those questions for him or her. Even if the biological father isn’t in the child’s life as the child grows, he may want to be there down the road. That’s when it will be up to your child to decide, and knowing the truth will help him or her make that decision more easily.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Overview of the Prenatal Paternity Test

People who have questions or concerns about paternity and want to determine whether or not a certain man is the father of an unborn child may wish to have a prenatal paternity test conducted. Much like paternity tests that are done postnatal, or after the baby is born, the DNA from the mother, the fetus, and the alleged father are compared with one another to see if paternity is a possibility.

DNA and Establishing Paternity

The structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, was discovered in 1953 and since that time, modern science has developed a number of intricate techniques that have allowed us to identify its complex make-up, and also to ascertain whether or not one person is related to another.

DNA is a molecule present within every cell of every living creature and under a powerful microscope, resembles a twisted ladder, which is why DNA is often referred to as the "double helix." This "ladder" is comprised of four base molecules, adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine that connect the "rungs," which are actually hydrogen bonds. The manner in which all of these molecules are arranges or structured is what is known as a DNA sequence, which are responsible for physical traits and characteristics as well as many other aspects related to heredity.

As cells divide and replicate, markers from both parent's DNA are equally present for a total of 46 chromosomes per cell. Through paternity testing, DNA is extracted through a process involving several distinct steps and then compared with other samples to determine if a match is present.

The Two Types of Prenatal Paternity Tests

Two different methods are used to collect DNA samples from an unborn child, both are considered to be invasive procedures and therefore present a certain amount of risk that should be discussed at length with the mother's obstetrician gynecologist (OB-GYN).

Chorionic Villi Sampling: Chorionic villi sampling, or CVS, is currently the earliest type of prenatal paternity testing that can be done on a fetus. CVS is done during the 10th through 13th weeks of pregnancy and collects cells from the placenta, which is the life-giving membrane that surrounds the tiny fetus. A doctor, usually the mother's obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN), uses an ultrasound machine to guide either a hollow needle into the abdomen, or alternately, inserts a catheter into the vagina to collect the cells needed for testing.

Amniocentesis: Done during the 14th through 24th weeks of pregnancy, amniocentesis prenatal paternity testing collects loose cells from the fetus present within the amniotic fluid. Done by an OB-GYN, a long thin needle that is also guided by an ultrasound is inserted into the abdomen and into the amniotic sac to extract the fluid. The cells are retrieved and then processed in the same manner as other cells to ascertain DNA markers that would establish or rule out paternity.

Medical Risks Associated with Prenatal Paternity Testing

Because the two methods of prenatal paternity testing are invasive procedures, there is a certain amount of medical risk associated with both. With amniocentesis, there's the potential for injury to both mother or fetus from the needle, as well as the risk of puncturing the placenta, which in most cases, heals on its on without any harm to the baby.

Because a foreign object is being introduced into the amniotic sac, there's always the potential for infection, although this is a rare occurrence. Also, birth defects such as clubfoot is a concern with amniocentesis, particularly if the procedure is done prior to the 15th week of pregnancy. Always discuss any concerns or questions with your own doctor about prenatal paternity testing.

Home DNA Test Kit

Although Home DNA test kits are frowned upon by FDA, the interest among consumers is reaching fever pitch. This is because DNA testing is much more expensive if you go to a company who offers this service. At the same time, the wait for the results to come through mail is excruciating.
Consumers want to have the option of home DNA test kits because there are some questions that can be answered based on the results of the test. For instance, you can find out if you are a potential cancer patient based on your DNA. Most popular reason though would be paternity tests to prove child support or other similar claims.
Do they work? This would depend on several things:
  • Collection of sample
  • Handling of sample
  • Sample
  • Preservation of sample or time frame between collection and testing
  • Quality of the DNA home kit

In medicine, there are often grey areas, and this means interpretation is also a major factor. You can misdiagnose a test result, and then stress unnecessarily because of it. Most doctors prefer not to recommend DNA home test kits, especially unsupervised ones, because of the potential pitfalls.  One of these pitfalls in codominance which is a term used to describe a condition with several factors or causes.  This means a gene that indicates a chance of getting cancer does not mean much unless it is compared in connection to other genes. As such, misinterpretation is often committed.
If ever you do decide to take one, be sure to read the instructions carefully, and not use it as a toy. Also, the test results are not acceptable in any court of law as evidence. This is merely for personal use only.
You should also choose which DNA home test kit to buy. The cheapest would be around $300, but it may not always be the best choice.  If you need a DNA test for legal reasons, then you need to go through the proper channels. If you just want to go into the “what if?” kind of scenario, then go ahead and take the DNA test. Just be sure that you get someone qualified to help you interpret the test results.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How to Choose a Paternity Lawyer

If you were with someone who is now pregnant and claims you’re the father but you’re unsure, it’s understandable that you’d want to establish paternity without a doubt. This is especially true considering you could be subject to pay child support if you sign the child’s birth certificate, even if he or she is not your biological child. While establishing paternity does not mean you get instant custody rights, it will go a long way toward working out a legal agreement between you and the child’s mother.

Choosing a Paternity Lawyer

It’s extremely important to consider hiring a paternity lawyer.  This will help ensure that you know your rights and that you’re protected.  There are a few different things you should look for. Your paternity lawyer should be able to handle a wide range of things for you, from establishing paternity to taking care of custody and child support issues.

There are a few different ways to find a good paternity lawyer. One of the most important ways is to ask for recommendations from friends and family members. This is a great way to get inside information on the attorney and the benefits of hiring that particular one. You can also get in touch with your local Bar Association to get a great referral of an attorney who can handle all of these issues for you.

Before going into any situation concerning paternity or child support, consult with a qualified attorney to ensure that you’re protected.

Understanding DNA Paternity Test Results

The results of every medical test today can have a wide range of inferences. Similarly, in a paternity test, the result  will contain the complete DNA profile of the father.  The report will also show a combined parental Index and relationship probability of each person with the child  i.e. the paternity, maternity and grand parentage. The strength of the result is also indicated  in the result. 

The result will be in the form of “inclusion” or “exclusion” giving a conclusive result. Whether the person, who is the alleged father, is excluded or not excluded from the paternity is the final result of this test.  A combined paternity index (CPI) is arrived by analyzing 15 genetic loci, each compared separately.  Each genetic locus is tested and arrived at this CPI.  The CPI analysis helps in getting the probability of paternity and this probability is arrived by comparing the genital population and common genetic information found in the analysis. The CPI result could be up to 99.99% accurate, and this CPI and probability both will be mentioned in the result. 

An Inclusion means that the genetic markers match to a probability of 99% or more which means the person who is an alleged father is not excluded from being a biological father. Similarly an exclusion report gives probability of 0.00% (genetic markers do not match) of the person being excluded from being the biological father of the tested child.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How to Get a Paternity Test

A paternity test is done to determine the biological father of the child. Since the DNA is passed on from the father to child, it is possible to identify the father based on the child's DNA. It is mostly done in custody battles and for other legal purposes.

So, how can you get a paternity test done? The first step is to choose a location where the test can be done. Many specialized DNA laboratories are equipped to do this testing.  You can take suggestions from friends and family to select the appropriate place. Doctors can also suggest the right place for you.  If the testing is ordered by the court, the court would give the list of laboratories that provide this service.  Once you choose a DNA testing facility, make sure they are reputable, AABB Accredited,   and use 8-10 markers to  identify genetics.

The father and the son must give a blood sample or a buccal sample that is taken from the inner cheek with a swab. The child could be of any age to under go the test. A photograph of all the parties will be taken by the lab to ensure identities of the parties. The results of the test usually take about a week and they are 99% accurate.

As paternity test could be an emotional experience, it is a good idea to go for counseling during this period.

What is a Genetic Testing Lab?

Genetic testing uses DNA extract for identifying any genetic health problems, prenatal testing and newborn screening. Genetic testing is conducted by accredited laboratories that have legal permission to conduct these tests. The information secured is kept private and confidential, and the information is not leaked to third parties with a vested interest in the evidence.

Basically, there are 5 types of Genetic testing:

-       US healthcare centers conduct newborn screening to check any dangerous health conditions like congenital hyperthyroidism.
-       Expectant mothers usually obtain prenatal testing to screen the fetus for bearing any disease symptoms such as Down Syndrome, physical deterioration, or mental retardation.
-       Families obtain genetic testing to know about the prevalence of recessive genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease or cystic fibrosis.
-       Genetic tests identify the late onset of diseases like Huntington’s or various types of cancer. The tests identify the possibility of predisposition of these health problems. 
-       To identify individuals on the basis of DNA fingerprinting. Forensic sciences use DNA evidence to convict or exonerate criminals.

Genetic testing labs conduct genetic tests follow ethical considerations and adhere to the guidelines provided by healthcare authorities. Costs of testing varies with genetic testing labs but are usually quite expensive tests and require a few days for the results to become available. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tips for Choosing Genetic Testing Companies

Genetic testing is done for a variety of reasons like to determine one's genetic vulnerabilities or to identify the father of a child or to understand one's ancestry. Whatever maybe the reason, its important to choose the right genetic testing company to be assured of optimal results. There are some things that should be considered before deciding on a particular company. 

First and foremost, the company should specify the genetic marker they select for the test and the reason for choosing those markers. Also, the company selected for genetic testing should contain standard page wherein quality and commitment are well demonstrated. 

The company should also clearly mention the laboratory in which they undertake the test and such labs should have the CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment) certificates and ISO.  Those labs should ensure the accuracy of the results. They should be transparent in all stages of the testing process and also the professionals working in these labs should be technically qualified and competent. 

Mailing info, address, phone and all other contact information should be clearly mentioned by the company. They should ensure confidentiality while dealing with any client. The reputation of the company should be good which could be checked through the local business bureau. There should be good customer service and they should be able to quickly resolve any issues and respond to inquires. When a company meets all these criteria, then they are definitely competent enough to handle your genetic tests.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Paternity Tests by Mail

Paternity tests are conducted to determine the biological father of a child. This test is normally ordered by a court in a custody battle. It is done in cases where the  mother of the child had more than one sexual partner during the time of conception. 

Paternity test by mail is done by sending a blood sample or the swab of the inner cheek of the mother, child and the alleged father (one or more persons) of the child by mail to the laboratory that was chosen for this test. The concerned lab would collect these samples and process the tests as required by the clients and send the results by mail.

During this process, there is a high chance for the samples to get mixed up or they can get lost during the transit. There is also a possibility for the results to get mixed up while mailing it back. 

The DNA test results are of great importance for the alleged father's as well as the child’s future and so there is no possibility for error. Also, the results may not be confidential as it can be opened by anyone who has access to the package. Due to these reasons, paternity tests by mail is not a good idea.
Photo:Salvatore Vuono

DNA Paternity Test Results

The results of every medical test today can have a wide range of inferences. Similarly, in a DNA paternity test, the result  will contain the complete DNA profile of the father.  The report will also show a combined parental Index and relationship probability of each person with the child  i.e. the paternity, maternity and grand parentage. The strength of the DNA paternity test result is also indicated  in the result. 

The result will be in the form of “inclusion” or “exclusion” giving a conclusive result. Whether the person, who is the alleged father, is excluded or not excluded from the paternity is the final result of this test.  A combined paternity index (CPI) is arrived by analyzing 15 genetic loci, each compared separately.  Each genetic locus is tested and arrived at this CPI.  The CPI analysis helps in getting the probability of paternity and this probability is arrived by comparing the genital population and common genetic information found in the analysis.

The CPI result could be up to 99.99% accurate, and this CPI and probability both will be mentioned in the result. 

An Inclusion means that the genetic markers match to a probability of 99% or more which means the person who is an alleged father is not excluded from being a biological father. Similarly an exclusion report gives probability of 0.00% (genetic markers do not match) of the person being excluded from being the biological father of the tested child.

A Review of Paternity Test Costs

At one time, not very long ago, paternity test costs were something that the average person would simply not be able to reasonably afford. Thanks to rapid advances in both the worlds of science and genetic testing, it's possible to determine paternity with nearly 100% accuracy for as little as a few hundred dollars, or less, and in as soon as one week's time.

In-Home Paternity Tests

Just a few years ago, in-home paternity tests were being sold for upwards of $500, but now, consumers have the luxury of having a DNA test conducted for less than one hundred dollars from some companies. There are several reputable companies working in conjunction with accredited laboratories who offer completely free paternity test kits to interested individuals. While the materials used to collect samples for testing are free, the actual DNA testing in the laboratory is not.

For a basic in-home paternity test done on three people, the child, mother, and alleged father, expect a cost of anywhere from $100 to $200 for regular service. Prices will double, or triple in some cases for expedited service which can be done in one business day.

Viability Paternity Testing

In the event an alleged father is unavailable for testing, missing, or even deceased, viability paternity testing is the process used to test DNA samples in which the typical means of collection aren't possible. For example, preserved samples of hair and blood or other tissue may be used to extract enough DNA markers to establish paternity, or, if none of these biological samples are available, testing his parents would be the next option.

For obvious reasons, this type of paternity testing is considerably more expensive than others. On average, a grandparentage test with the mother's sample is between $600 and $800, and when the mother is not known, the price will usually then increase by a few hundred dollars.

Legally Binding Paternity Tests

On average, legally binding paternity tests are more expensive than those done purely for curiosity's sake or personal knowledge. For a paternity test to be legally admissible in a court of law, a process known as the Chain of Custody must be followed to the letter. The Chain of Custody assures the court that the correct procedures were adhered to starting with the collection process and continuing on with the actual testing of the DNA.

Prenatal Paternity Tests

Since DNA is within our cells from conception, it isn't necessary to wait until after a baby is born to establish paternity as the results will be exactly the same in terms of probability and accuracy. If the pregnancy is a difficult one or the mother is having complications, it's always advisable to wait until after birth and proceed with a postnatal paternity test as the methods used are invasive procedures that do pose some risk to both the fetus and the mother.

Amniocentesis testing involves extracting a small amount of amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus with a long needle to test the DNA in the cells within the fluid. This procedure is done between the 14th and 24th weeks of pregnancy. Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) may be done even earlier on, during the 10th through 13th weeks, and also uses either a needle inserted into the abdomen to extract cells from the developing placenta, or the procedure can also be done vaginally.

The costs for a prenatal paternity test usually average around $500, with the additional doctor's fees in the $500 to $1,500 range, making this one of the most expensive types of paternity tests available today.
Photo:Francesco Marino

How to Get a Cheap Paternity Test

Paternity tests were at one time a mysterious procedure that had the potential of costing thousands of dollars to be completed. Today, the prices have dropped dramatically just within the last decade with in-home paternity test kits even available in drug stores in certain locations for less than $30. There are many companies who even offer completely free test kits that also include postage-paid mailers for returning the samples to the laboratory for processing, which is where the fees come in, that will vary by location, company, and also be dependent upon the type of procedures that are needed.

The first place to search for a cheap paternity test is online as there are numerous DNA testing companies that are associated with reputable and accredited laboratories with informative web sites that clearly outline their services. As each particular case is different, some with unique or extenuating circumstances, it's best to contact a DNA testing company or laboratory directly about specific prices for any involved or complicated situations.

Some at-home testing companies offer limited customer service, which is rather important when dealing matters as important as paternity. Before making your purchase, always be sure to find out what type of support is available, when, and via what medium.

What is DNA?
First discovered over 50 years ago, deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is the essential molecule that is present within the cell's of all living beings. Through a thermal heating process using special chemical agents, DNA is extracted from the cells and genetic markers are detected on the strands of molecules that form the DNA. If enough of these markers do not match the sample from the child in question, paternity is ruled out and is not a possibility.

If more than half of the markers from the father's portion of the DNA do indeed match those of the child's, paternity can be established with 99.9999% accuracy if the mother has also been tested, which is the case the majority of the time. In other cases where there isn't enough conclusive evidence after testing once, additional types of testing can be done at an added cost.

Will a Cheap Paternity Test Be Accurate?

Even tests that are advertised for as little as $99 must go through the same process used to extract DNA from the cell, detect genetic markers and the DNA profile of the cell, and then determine if the samples collected are a match, or if the man in question couldn't possibly be the father. Exclusion is always 100% accurate, and many inexpensive or cheap paternity tests routinely boast impressive rates for establishing paternity within 99.9999% accuracy. If not enough genetic markers are a match, then the two people couldn't be related as they don’t share any of the same DNA.

Information Vs. Legally Binding Paternity Tests

Information paternity tests, or those done for curiosity's sake, are far less expensive than legally binding paternity tests. It's important to note that a cheap paternity test, while useful for peace of mind and personal knowledge, will not be admissible in a court of law without following what is known as the Chain of Custody.

A Chain of Custody is a set of procedures that must be followed in order to satisfy the legal requirements set forth by the judicial system. An impartial third party must be present in order to collect samples for legally binding paternity tests, which in turn, increases the overall cost but is worth the extra fees in order to use the results for instances such as child custody. Your attorney should have additional information about the Chain of Custody and what will be required in court.

What is DNA Genetic Testing?

Genetic Testing is the procedure undertaken to analyze and test human genes and the underlying DNA. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid and it is present in all human beings. This DNA is unique for every individual and so the results of genetic testing are used extensively in many fields. It is also used as a legal evidence in many cases.

So, how is this test done? Any person wishing to undergo a DNA test, gives his or her blood sample and the DNA is extracted from the white blood cells. It can also be done by taking a swab of saliva from the inner cheek. DNA samples can even be obtained from hair, skin and the amniotic fluid surrounding unborn babies in the womb. The DNA is analyzed to determine a person's ancestry or to diagnose any kind of genetic disease that the person may be vulnerable to.  It can also be used to identify the parent of a child.

The results of genetic testing are simple. They indicate whether a person has any changes in the gene or not. In the case of a paternity test, it indicates whether a person is the father of a child or not. Though the results are simple, the tests involved are quite advanced and require the assistance of qualified professionals.