In This Article
In This Article
For decades, we’ve used genetic tests to confirm paternity. These tests were done in laboratories and took several months.
Now, you can take a DNA test at home and get your results after 3 to 8 weeks. Depending on the test you’re taking, it can determine a child’s parents or help you find lost relatives.
Genetic ancestry tests like 23andMe and AncestryDNA connect you to potential relatives by finding people who share similar DNA as yours.
But if you want to establish paternity or maternity, you should take a maternity or paternity test. These tests prove parenthood with an exact DNA match between a parent and child.
We asked the help of pediatrician Dr. Rizza Mira to explain the differences between a standard DNA test and tests that confirm the maternity and maternity of a child.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) holds genetic information. It dictates our physical characteristics. To an extent, it influences our health and personality.
Each person’s DNA is unique. We get half of our genes from our biological father and the other half from our mother. Our genetic makeup makes it possible to confirm:
Establishing parenthood has legal implications. You can use the DNA test results to gain child support and other legal rights — such as child custody, benefits, and inheritance.
Paternity and maternity testing may also be helpful in criminal investigations and forensics.
It gives you the opportunity to find out which health conditions you’re most at risk for. For example, you can explore your parents’ ancestry to uncover genetic predispositions.
If you were adopted or abandoned at an early age, knowing who your parents are can give you peace of mind. Parents who put up their children for adoption may also find closure.
A DNA paternity test is commonly used to prove the biological relationship between a father and child. The child in question may be a minor or an adult at the time of testing.
In rare cases, paternity test results can disprove paternity or a man’s fatherhood to a child.
To perform the test, you need to collect DNA samples from the suspected father and child. The biological mother of the child may also provide samples for some tests.
Prenatal paternity tests may require amniotic fluid, placental tissue, or fetal DNA from the mother’s blood. A home DNA paternity test only needs cheek swabs with buccal (cheek) cells.
The test compares DNA samples from the alleged father and his child. To prove their relationship, the man being tested must have the same genetic markers as the child.
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Maternity DNA testing is typically used to confirm the biological relationship of a mother and child. The child doesn’t have to be young. They can be an adult and still take the test.
Sometimes, it’s used to disprove maternity or a woman’s motherhood to a child.
DNA samples are collected from the mother and child. The child’s father may also provide his samples, but it’s optional.
Maternity tests may need blood samples or swabs containing cheek cells.
The test compares the genetic material of the alleged mother and her child. A woman must have the same genetic markers as her child before she is considered the biological mother.
Maternity and paternity testing are 99.99% accurate both for confirming biological parents or excluding them. When a parent is excluded, it means two things:
General practitioner Dr. Rizza Mira has this to say about their accuracy:
“Older methods of proving parenthood are ABO blood group typing, analysis of proteins and enzymes, and using human leukocyte antigen (HLA). But DNA testing is the most formal and exact method of providing proof of paternity or maternity.”
The accuracy of these tests depends on the number of markers being tested. According to geneticists, only specific markers should be tested to confirm parenthood.
23andMe is known for its DNA testing kits. You can order these tests at home to learn about your ancestry, health, and traits.
Currently, there’s no 23andMe paternity test or maternity test. The company can’t confirm a child’s biological relationship to an alleged parent.
But if you’re looking for a lost relative (like a mother or father), 23andMe’s ancestry tests can narrow down your search and make it easier to find them.
23andMe has a feature called DNA Relatives. It matches you with people who have shared DNA. While this can help you find a child’s parents, a few things are needed:
You should know the test’s limitations so you’ll know what to expect from your DNA results.
AncestryDNA has the largest genetic database, with over 15 million users from around the world. The company specializes in DNA tests for ancestry and traits.
Unfortunately, they do not offer an AncestryDNA paternity test or maternity test. So they can’t determine whether a child is related to a suspected parent.
That said, you can use AncestryDNA to find a child’s mother or father. But you would need:
When these criteria are met, it will improve your chances of locating a child’s mother or father.
Yes. A home paternity test like Paternity Depot conveniently tests for paternity at home. You can order them online, collect the DNA samples yourself, and send them back for analysis.
DNA test results are usually available after 3 to 8 weeks. When they’re ready, you can access them online or have them printed out and delivered by mail.
For security reasons, most paternity testing companies do not send results through email.
Yes. But it depends on the test. Only legal paternity testing provides court-admissible results.
You can use these test results on cases involving child custody and child support. They can also help with immigration and disputes on inheritance.
“For a paternity test to be admissible in court, a third-party must verify the identity of the prospect parent, witness, or collect the DNA samples themselves,” says Dr. Riza Mira, a pediatrician.
The cost of a DNA paternity test may vary. It depends on the testing process and how samples are collected.
Paternity tests that are performed in a doctor’s office cost about $400 to $800. Home paternity testing is much cheaper and costs an average of $150.
Pregnant women who opt for prenatal paternity testing may have to spend more than $1,000. A legal paternity test with court-admissible results costs anywhere from $300 to $500.
No. Health insurance companies do not cover paternity tests. It’s because DNA tests (such as paternity testing) are not medical tests used for diagnosing health conditions.
Yes. A paternity test can be wrong. While it’s unlikely for paternity tests to be inaccurate, there are rare cases where they turn up a false positive or a false negative.
Paternity tests may produce incorrect results if:
Someone tampered with the test or samples
There was human error during testing
The suspected parent is related to the biological parent
The child and/or parent has a genetic mutation that prevents an exact match
Taking several tests after the first can help confirm or refute its accuracy.
In legal situations where it’s necessary to establish or exclude parentage beyond reasonable doubt, the court may order more than one test.
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