In this day and age, paternity disputes and doubts are far from unheard of. There are many statistics about paternity testing and the number of tests carried out although of course, not all are equally reliable.
The American Association of Blood Banks, a reliable source of information when it comes to paternity statistics, gives an estimate of the number of paternity tests carried out in 2003 as being somewhere around 354,000. So, let us take a better look and see 7 different ways in which one can establish whether an alleged father is really the biological father of a child – in some cases paternity can even be established without even testing the alleged father.
Paternity testing is the most reliable and accurate way of determining whether man X is the biological father of a child or perhaps children. Ideally, whatever the scenario, paternity testing involving samples from the alleged father and the child will always be the first recommendation. If the alleged father is willing to be tested and the child too, then all is well and good. DNA samples need to be collected from the putative father and child using mouth swabs. Once the samples are collected, it is time for the laboratories to analyze them to see whether the father and the child really share the same DNA profiles, thereby confirming that the alleged father is the biological father. Unfortunately, there are countless cases where the alleged father is unavailable or unwilling to be tested (or perhaps dead). In such cases, there are other tests which can be carried out. Most online companies will have available an online customer support team. Some of the main ones include EasyDNA, DDC, homeDNAdirect and The Genetic Testing Laboratories.
Testing the Alleged Father’s Possessions
If you are unable to get a DNA sample directly from the alleged father, you might have the chance of using an item belonging to the alleged father which contains his DNA – for example, a pair of glasses, a cigarette end, a used condom, a toothbrush and many other such samples which a laboratory can use to extract the alleged father’s DNA. Obviously, not all samples are the same – some are better than others and provide a higher chance of successful DNA extraction. The age of the sample, type of sample, how it was stored and collected are the main factors must be taken into consideration. The laboratory will be able to give you a full appraisal of your chosen sample once you contact them for the test.
Whilst taking an item you suspect contains another person’s DNA for a paternity test is legal in most countries, you should be aware of DNA theft laws in some countries such as the UK. In the UK, it is in fact illegal to take any DNA sample belonging to another person with the intention of having it analyzed. You would need the full consent of the person to whom the sample belongs to do the DNA test.
When the alleged father cannot, for some reason or other, take part in the paternity test the next best option is to carry out a DNA test between the siblings of the alleged father. There are various types of sibling tests which can tell you whether 2 or more individuals have the same biological dad or different biological fathers. The following tests can all be used in cases where individuals wish to know if they share the same biological father:
- If tested parties are female, they can carry out an X chromosome test
- If siblings are male, they can carry out a Y chromosome test
- If siblings are both male and female, they can carry out a full siblings test.
Of course, siblings might not always agree to being tested, especially if they might stand to lose financially.
Testing the alleged father’s siblings and comparing their DNA to the DNA of the alleged father’s child is another alternative to a DNA paternity test. The result of an aunt/uncle test with their alleged niece or nephew is not, however, always accurate even if they are truly biological relatives. The amount of common genetic material between aunts or uncles with their nieces of nephews is not as much as the father’s. This said, in some cases, it is possible for biological relatives to have barely any common DNA. Conversely, there may be instances where the amount of common DNA exceeds. Depending on the gender of all the people involved in the test, there may be other more accurate tests (such as Y chromosome testing in cases of solely male test participants).
A DNA test can be carried out to confirm whether the grandparents are related to their grandchild. If results confirm that they are not related then the implications are that the grandchild’s father is not the biological father either. The test is very accurate if both grandparents are available. If only one grandparent is available you might want to consider different testing options, as there is a strong likelihood that you will not have a conclusive answer with this particular test. When both grandparents are available, laboratories can use both their DNA samples to reconstruct the profile of their son (the alleged father). They can then proceed to compare this profile with that of the grandchild to see whether there is a match (indirectly confirming paternity) or a mismatch (indirectly excluding paternity).
Paternity Testing in Pregnancy
It is also possible to establish paternity in pregnancy in what is called a prenatal paternity test. Using a number of methods including amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling, and maternal blood samples, scientists can extract the DNA blueprint of the unborn baby. Prenatal paternity testing can be carried out at around 10 weeks but this depends very much on the type sample collection used – for some prenatal paternity tests, the mother might have to wait till her 15th week. It is also worth noting that many prenatal paternity tests also pose certain risks. For example, amniocentesis can result in miscarriage because the sample collection involves inserting a needle into the womb. The needle can sometimes harm the fetus, cause stress and lead to miscarriage. So, please consult your physician before you take this measure.
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