DNA Testing Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ
In the results of a DNA paternity test, when a father is "excluded" (not the father), we are often asked: “What are the chances of the DNA test being wrong? What are the chances of a laboratory mistake?”
First of all, the laboratory we use has stated that standard tests submitted are split into two independent teams, i.e., we do the test twice. If the results give two different readings for an allele, then the sample is considered contaminated and invalid, i.e., is rejected, and the laboratory requests another collection of samples. (This is very rare, and has happened with us only with some customers who took their own samples.)
Further, we track samples very carefully. Before we take samples, we label the envelopes with your names, and the envelopes have a unique bar code for tracking. Samples do not go into any unmarked container to be marked later, and samples can be tracked by scanning the bar code. You can double check this at the time we take the samples. After collecting the samples, we log in directly to the laboratory to type in your name and the bar code number. In the laboratory, this is double checked. (If there is any difference between the way a name was hand written on an envelope and how it was typed, such as if there is a typo, then what was hand written would take precedence and we would be notified. This is why we prefer to write names ourselves, clearly, because some customers, such as for mail-in samples, have not hand written clearly enough.)
Thus, everything is closely tracked and things are double checked from the time we collect the samples through the final report.
This and more is recorded electronically. Often, a case is raised years later for some reason. We handle such a large number of cases that we record a lot of details at the time of the case, so that years later we can still retrieve the details.
Do you protect peoples privacy?
Our laboratory states publicly: "We take our patients' privacy very seriously, and we have the strict confidentiality policy to prove it. ... We will not release any information about your case to anyone without your authorization." We do our best to keep your identity confidential.
Besides, we do not require that you give us your real name, and you do not need to show us any ID, for the personal DNA test. You can give us any names you want. You can pay cash, not give a credit card or other official payment. This is common and routine with us. Other laboratories may vary in the above issues and options.
We just do what we can to encourage people to resolve paternity issues and either take responsibility for a child or avoid paternity fraud or keep searching for the real biological father to take responsibility. Where there is doubt, there are problems.
Your providing your identity to us is optional. Obviously, if you want your real and full names on a report for official applications such as if you need a DNA test for your embassy or for the Thai government, then you tell us so we can provide or confirm the information with entity you have chosen. Also, many people just prefer to have their full name on the report without any particular application at the time, in which case your identity is kept confidential.
At the time we handle your case, we record your phone number and/or email address and/or other means of contact. These are your official means of contact for us. If somebody contacts us from a different phone number or email address or other means of contact saying they are you, then they are denied. For example, if you change your phone number and/or lose your email address, then you'd better have given us another means of contact. If you used a fake or partial name, then you cannot get another copy of a lost report. If you used your real full name (which required you present government issued photo ID to us at the time of the test) but lost all contact means on record, then the only way you can get another copy of a lost report or authorize a government to contact us is to walk into our office with government issued ID which matches what we have on record (name, birth date, etc.).
We are very careful about maintaining peoples' privacy. How old does the baby need to be for a DNA paternity test?
Any age. We can do a DNA test anytime after a baby is born. Your DNA is the same from shortly after sperm meets egg, until death. The DNA is the same in practically all cells in our body (those which have a nucleus).
Can you do a DNA paternity test before the baby is born?
Checking the baby's DNA inside the mother's womb is called "prenatal DNA paternity testing". There are ways to test a baby before it is born. However, we do not perform any method of prenatal DNA testing.
A common method between the 14th and 24th week of pregnancy is to carefully insert a needle into the mother to withdraw amniotic fluid from the womb. This is a little bit risky to the baby and painful to the mother.
Between the 10th and 13th week, the sample may be taken from the placenta.
Another, much more recent method, is to take a blood sample from the mother, based on the fact that there are small amounts of the baby's fetal DNA present in the mother's blood. However, this is a very expensive and difficult method. A very special preservative must be put into the blood sample, and even then the fetal DNA degrades quickly.
Some laboratories started to advertise this method, so some competitors had to do likewise. There are stories on the internet of "not father" conclusions from some other laboratories, when another test after the baby was born revealed that the man actually was the father.
Despite the high costs (and profits) of this method, we do not offer prenatal DNA testing, for a variety of reasons. We test only after the baby is born.
Can you help with DNA testing for immigration at my embassy?
It depends upon which embassy. Embassy requirements vary from country to country, and have been changing.
For example, our Director is an American and is most familiar with American government regulations. Before 2005, third party agencies were involved in DNA collection for U.S. consular purposes. The Foreign Affairs Manual regulations on DNA collection were changed in 2005 preventing the involvement of third party agencies. Further changes since then have made the process even less flexible. The standard procedure is that kits must be sent directly from the chosen AABB accredited laboratory to the relevant consular section and the samples must be taken by a panel physician or a technician under the panel physician’s supervision on site at the consulate. The relevant regulations appear in 7 FAM 1100 Appendix A.
There are a lot of countries in this world, and many have their own regulations. Others have minimal regulations. These regulations can change. Therefore, we simply ask that you contact your embassy first, if your intention is for immigration purposes instead of your own knowledge.
We have performed "Chain of Custody" DNA sample collections for legal purposes, a process which is much more complicated than the "personal" test, and more expensive.
Many people come to us first for a simple "personal" test to make sure the child is theirs, before they start the complicated and more expensive process of an immigration application and all the paperwork involved, plus the DNA test.
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