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Possible Errors with Paternity Tests Child Paternity, the Law, and Citizenship

Child Paternity, the Law, and Citizenship

Many children know who both of their parents are, but in instances where the father is unknown, a means of establishing paternity must be found. Child paternity tests are required for many reasons: health conditions, establishing citizenship, child support payments, and government benefits. By being able to match the father with his child, the child will have wider options in his life. By conducting a DNA test, the parentage of the child can be established. In matters dealing with legal issues, only certain genetic testing services results will be accepted. These services have been accredited by the AABB for relationship testing, and they have agreed to holding themselves to a stringent standard of testing which makes their results reliable enough for legal purposes of determining child paternity.

Determining child paternity is critical, but possible errors can occur with the tests. Several factors can contribute to false results on child dna paternity tests. A recent article in Discover Magazine entitled Who's Your Daddy? shed light on the errors that can even occur in DNA tests used for legal purposes. Random mutations in the genes and testing of those mutation sites might lead to a false positive or negative result. This is often more common with older fathers, as noted by Dr. Barry Starr from Standford University.

The Department of Health and Human Services Handbook on Child Support Enforcement notes that should the state order that a child paternity test be done to determine the father of a child, the state will pay for the test. This can save the mother from having to pay for an expensive test and allow her to avoid using a free DNA test. Many times free child paternity tests are not as reliable as paid tests since the labs where they are sent often do not test as many sites on the DNA. The more sites tested, the more trustworthy the results could be. Sending the results to a lab accredited with the AABB will also ensure that the highest standards where held in the testing environment.

The sample taken for the child paternity test will make a difference in reducing the number of errors. Sending a blood sample for a child paternity test will net better results than a cheek swab. Cheek swabs are often done at home and the swab used to collect the sample could easily be contaminated by another person's DNA. Since DNA is present on all cells, dry skin cells, hair, tears, and body secretions all can contaminate a cheek swab. Blood samples must be drawn in the controlled environment of a clinic which can help to prevent other DNA from getting into the blood. DNA tests paid for by the state will be accepted in child parentage cases, and since they are legally binding, these tests are more reliable than non-accepted free DNA tests.

The best means to prevent errors with paternity tests is to find a testing service whose results are accepted by the state. Even if the results are not needed for legal reasons, they will be more accurate than those from other laboratories.