Samples used in DNA Paternity Testing

DNA paternity testing can be carried out successfully with many different samples. Today’s DNA testing technology makes it possible to analyze not only a vast range of samples but also work with quantities of DNA that are miniscule and sometimes also extremely degraded. The convenience of home paternity testing also means you don’t actually have to go to any laboratories or doctors as everything is done by postal and online means.

Contents and use of home testing kit

The home testing kit is convenient for the simple reason that it enables sample collection at home in the easiest and most straightforward manner. Home kits contain oral swabs which are to be rubbed around the inside of the mouth for 10 seconds and then left to dry for around 1 hour. The rubbing action of the cotton-ended part of the swab against the inner lining of the mouth (the epithelial membrane) causes thousands and cheek cells to detach and stick to the swab. Under laboratory conditions, these cheek cells are then ruptured and the DNA is freed from the cell nucleus within which it is contained. Swabs not only offer the advantage of being easy to use but DNA is easily extracted from oral swabs which also makes DNA analysis with such a sample cheaper.

Blood samples in paternity testing

Long gone are the days when medical blood draws were used to carry out DNA tests. The problem with blood is not so much the blood in itself, which is an excellent sample to use for a DNA test, but the medical blood draw. Medical blood draws are impractical, require assistance of a doctor, nurse or phlebotomist and not unusually, people shudder at the thought of needles- especially kids. Medical blood draws are for the most part strongly discouraged – also not to be forgotten the problems of shipping blood which must be declared pathogen free and packed accordingly in leak proof containers, be kept at a low temperature and everything sealed with a biohazard label.

Blood stains can also be used as samples for a DNA paternity test. The chances of successful DNA extraction with blood stains is lower than with a medical blood draw. Blood stains have a 75% chance of successful DNA extraction, a probability which is as high as 99%.

Other DNA samples commonly used

There is such a vast range of samples that can be tested – some of them being biological material such as hair DNA testing, semen, nail clippings etc. Other samples will contain DNA by default such as a toothbrush, Kleenex, razor clippings etc. Normally, the person assisting you with your DNA test will explain the fact that some samples are essentially better than others, that there is an added cost for testing these samples and the way in which you should collect and package each sample.

Further reading

Paternity testing is sometimes believed to be complex or expensive. It is full of misconceptions which can easily be clarified by reading this article about common paternity testing misconceptions.