Paternity tests are done to determine and establish legal and biological parenthood. The technique specifically helps to determine the father of a new-born or even an unborn child in their mother’s womb. Around the world, law enforcing agencies, medical professionals, and private clients make use of paternity testing services to identify whether or not a biological relationship exists through the examination of the child’s genetic material and the father’s.
DNA testing to resolve paternity disputes
Problematic paternity cases can easily be resolved with the help of DNA testing and polymerase chain reaction. One can opt for these tests for informational purposes or the court may order a test to solve cases where paternity is contested or in some way disputed.
Paternity testing can be of the following types:
- At home paternity testing
- Legal paternity testing
- Paternity testing for immigration
- Prenatal testing (establishing paternity during pregnancy)
Different paternity tests will require a different method of samples collection. For example in legal testing, the sample must be collected by a third party witness. This type of test would be used for court cases or when the alleged dad is in prison. In prenatal testing a surgeon needs to extract the baby DNA from inside the womb. In at home testing, the interested parties themselves must collect their own DNA samples at home.
Standard paternity test protocol
1. Obtaining the DNA and genetic material:
This is the first step of every paternity test. In case of prenatal DNA sampling, the procedure is complex and a bit more time consuming.
While undertaking amniocentesis for example (a type of prenatal DNA extraction), the doctor punctures the frontal uterine wall and collects amniotic fluid from the cavity. In CVS (chorionic villus sampling) the doctor inserts an ultrasound guided needle to collect some tissue sample.
The system is different for paternity testing after birth. For post natal procedures, buccal swabs are gently taken from the mouth cavity (even in new-born). A doctor can also undertake venipuncture and draw some blood for preservation and sampling.
2. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) phase:
The technique was first discovered in 1967. This technology allows the laboratory professional to amplify or multiply the genetic material. The sample collected earlier is processed with PCR enzymes and conveniently amplified for detection and separation of the unique genetic base pairs. The nucleic acid molecules can be multiplied in this phase and the individual’s personal DNA profile.
3. DNA analysis and comparison: stage of identification:
Once the DNA material has been amplified, special markers and chemical agents are used for making comparisons between the two different samples from the possible child and alleged father. The phase consists of two different stages:
- First, a florescent marker is applied on both samples. These markers can influence the genetic material by significantly changing the colour for detection and comparison. Similar DNA will share a colour and resemble in pattern.
- Then DNA fragments are cut from each of the samples using a restriction enzyme. Then the fragments are allowed to spread using gel electrophoresis technology. The similarity between two different segments from different samples is used to establish or exclude the disputed paternity.
Nowadays, paternity testing has become easier than ever. You may order private test results from your home. Mobile testing kits also offer more efficient and accurate results making the process easy and reliable!