The words "DNA testing" are most commonly associated with DNA paternity testing. We hear the term most often on television talk shows or perhaps in television courtrooms.

Paternity means fatherhood. Paternity is established when a paternity testing laboratory uses genetic testing methods to demonstrate that an alleged father is the biological father of a child. These DNA paternity tests are performed to a legal standard. Paternity is disproved when these same methods and standards demonstrate that an alleged father is not the biological father.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the genetic material in the cells of your body that govern inheritance of the color of your hair, eye color, your build, bone density and many other human and animal traits. DNA is a long, but narrow string-like object. A one-foot long string or strand of DNA is normally packed into a space roughly equal to a cube 1-millionth of an inch on a side. Not only does the human body rely on DNA but also so do most living things, including plants, animals and bacteria.

Every nucleated cell has 46 chromosomes, except the sperm cells from the man and the egg of the woman that only contain 23 chromosomes each. At the moment of conception, there are 46 chromosomes necessary to create a person. Thus, a person receives half of his/her genetic material or DNA from the biological mother, and the other half from the biological father.
Our body's cells each contain a complete sample of our DNA. There are muscle cells, brain cells, liver cells, blood cells, sperm cells and others. Basically, every part of the body is made up of these tiny cells and each contains a sample or complement of DNA identical to that of every other cell within a given person.

Every person's DNA is unique except for identical twins. Since it is so specific, just like a fingerprint, DNA paternity testing is the most powerful form of testing. DNA paternity testing is much more than a blood test. It can be performed on a much wider variety of samples, including blood cells, cheek cells, tissue samples, and semen. Since blood types, such as A, B, O, and Rh are more common within the general population; the power to differentiate individuals is not as high as with DNA paternity testing. Typical DNA test results are often 10 to 100 times more accurate than what the courts require.

Years ago, DNA testing required laboratory presence; however, there are now numerous types of home DNA tests available for use. These DNA test kits are available by direct shopping, mail order or online. The cost for these home DNA tests varies, depending on your specific desires. With a little research, you can even find a free DNA test. Most home DNA test kits are basically the same and are easy to use. For example, a basic, easy to use DNA paternity test kit may cost approximately $200.00. This low-cost DNA test kit is often used for proving paternity to a doubting father or for people who are simply looking for confirmation and peace of mind.

For approximately $225.00, a DNA test providing over 10 times more accuracy than the basic DNA test kit is available. Those with serious doubts concerning paternity and who want a higher accuracy rate than the basic DNA test kit commonly use this kit. Again, popular for those people who want that extra accuracy rating for peace of mind.

For those who simply have to have the best and are willing to pay for it, there is a higher accuracy rate DNA test kit available. This enables the parties to obtain an impressive accuracy rate that is offered by very few labs in the world. Keep in mind that DNA testing in itself is 99.999% accurate. The increased costs reflect the laboratory and higher accuracy rate of the type of test.

Another home DNA test will include testing for the mother, alleged father, and child. This will cost around $300.00. The mother does not have to be tested but is recommended if she is available (the price is the same). DNA paternity testing is so powerful that testing can be performed when the mother is not available.

Along with DNA paternity testing, a common use is the legal DNA test, i.e. to assist in matters of changing birth records, immigration issues, and inheritance issues. The average cost of this legal DNA test may cost approximately $400.00. The price structure of these kits depends on how many people are being tested. For example, mother, father and number of children. The cost to test each additional child can be anywhere from $150.00 to $175.00 per test.

Each DNA test kit listed above uses almost the exact same technique. Tests with higher accuracy involve testing more regions (parts) of each persons DNA. This extra work provides more information, and more accuracy – thus a higher, impressive accuracy rating.

With the home DNA test kit, it is recommended that samples be taken and sent to the lab within two weeks of each other (for best results). Samples have been tested up to 1 year old with positive results.

There are no age restrictions with DNA paternity testing. It used to be common procedure that only people over the age of 6 months could be tested. This was mainly due to the difficulty of drawing blood from small infants. In addition, a large sample, usually two big tubes of blood, was required. This would be very difficult on a small child. This is no longer the case. In fact, for paternity and custody issues, DNA testing can be done using buccal (cheek) swabs or umbilical cord blood collected at birth can be used and does allow for rapid and reliable testing regardless of age. Since the DNA is the same in every cell of the body, the accuracy of testing performed on cheek cells collected with a swab is the same as using the blood. The sample is collected by using a buccal swab and gently massaging the inside of the mouth. DNA can be extracted from this sample. This procedure is non-invasive and painless. This is the method used by the home DNA test kit.

However, DNA paternity testing only requires a few drops of blood (1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon), or cheek cells collected by swabbing the mouth. This small amount of blood, or cheek swab, permits the easier testing of newborns and infants. Being that DNA is set at conception, a paternity test can be performed before the child is born, through Chorionic Villi Sampling (CVS) or Amniocentesis.

DNA Paternity testing can also be performed using post-mortem specimens collected by the coroner's office. A paternity test can be done when that person is deceased or missing by reconstructing his/her DNA patterns with samples from the deceased's biological relatives.

A DNA paternity test is the most accurate form of paternity testing possible. If the DNA patterns between the child and the alleged father do not match on two or more DNA probes, then that alleged father is 100% excluded which means he has a 0% probability of paternity – it is not possible that he can be the biological father of the child.


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