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Possible Errors with Paternity Tests Think Your DNA Test Results are Error-Free? Think Again!

Think Your DNA Test Results are Error-Free? Think Again!

Women who have had several partners in the past are likely to question the paternity of their child. Up to 1 in 25 children are living with a man who is not the biological father of her baby. Family break ups could occur if a man were to discover that he is not the father of his wife's child. The decision to seek DNA test results about the father should be carefully considered.

To find an answer about a child's paternity, DNA testing can be used to match the father, but there are possible errors (“false positives”) which can occur with paternity tests. These are not very common, and they differ depending upon the test done. While paternity tests are 99.99% reliable, human error can cause a false reading in the DNA test results. If an error is suspected, a repeat of the test might be required, but certain precautions before the test can be taken to prevent many of the most common errors.

Paternity tests can lead to a false positive result if there are two closely related men who might be the father, but the lab only tests one of them. In order to avoid one man being listed in the DNA test results as the father when he is not, all possible fathers need to be tested if the men are blood relatives. This is especially important in cases of brothers or fathers and sons. If both of the men refuse to be tested, the sample from the one man taken will be put under more rigorous examination. In order for this to be done, the lab to which the DNA sample is being sent needs to be informed of the required additional testing. In many cases there is an added fee for this, but determining the proper parentage of a child will be worth the slight increase in monetary cost.

There are various forms of test kits available. Most home testing kits require a sample from the inside of the cheek of the child, the mother, and the possible father. These “buccal swabs” are then sent to a DNA testing lab for analysis. Cheek swabs are less likely to produce accurate results than blood samples since a swab could easily become contaminated. For this reason, many home paternity kits are not acceptable in court, but they do serve to settle personal curiosity. Paternity tests where the DNA test results can be used in court, especially in child custody and support cases, most often require that a sample of blood be drawn from the mother, the child, and either the possible father or both of his birth parents. The results are then sent to an American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) accredited lab. By using one of these labs, the laboratory conditions are subject to oversight, hence, possibly lowering the likelihood of errors on behalf of the lab technicians there.   Having a paternity test where a blood sample is used is another method to reducing errors in the DNA test results.

Finding a child's father will impact the rest of his life, and if there is a doubt about the DNA test results, repeating the test might be required. Human error either during collection or examination are always possibilities. By using an accredited lab and using care while getting the samples, one can reach the 99.99% probability that the results are correct.