With advances in technology over the past few decades, it’s now easier than ever to get access to high-tech DNA testing equipment.
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Home DNA tests are now commercially available to purchase online from sites like Amazon.
It seems a little hard to believe that a DNA test done at home can produce results as accurate as a scientific laboratory.
If you’re not sure whether you should trust the results of a home DNA test, in this article, we’ll look at how exactly these DNA tests work and find out just how accurate they really are.
How Do Home DNA Tests Work?
It might seem a little hard to believe, but you can get the same quality DNA test results in a home kit as you can in a fully stocked scientific laboratory.
The main reason for this is that the actual DNA sample collection is done at home, whilst the DNA analysis is conducted in a laboratory. This means all you have to worry about when taking a home DNA test is collecting a sample and that process has also been made easier than ever before.
The most common way to collect a DNA sample is with the saliva on the inside of your cheek. Swabbing the inside of your cheek with a cotton swab is also known as a buccal swab.
It really is as easy as it sounds, you just need to rub the swab across your cheek a few times to ensure there’s enough DNA on it and quickly seal it up to be sent off to the lab.
This is the case for DNA paternity testing for a father and child that has already been born. This is the most common type of test so it’s been made very easy to carry out at home.
However, in cases of paternity tests between a father and an unborn child, a blood sample would have to be taken. This isn’t the sort of test that can be done at home, so if you’re interested in this kind of testing, you’ll have to find a lab in your area that is willing to conduct the test for you.
Once you’ve collected your sample and sealed it tightly in the bag, tube or whatever container is provided, all you need to do is send it off to the address that will be provided in the kit and wait for your results.
Is A Mouth Swab Test Less Accurate Than Other DNA Collection Methods?
There’s nothing to say that this form of DNA collection will produce more or less accurate results than, say, blood collection.
Whatever way you collect the sample, as long as it has your DNA on it, the results will still be just as accurate.
The reason we use buccal swabs (swabbing the inside of your cheek) is that it’s a lot less invasive and painful than other collection methods. I’m sure you can imagine how much more uncomfortable it would be to have a needle prick your finger and draw blood from it!
How Accurate Can Home DNA Test Results Be?
DNA testing has come a long way in the past few decades. As a result, home tests can now produce results with up to 99.99% accuracy!
This is true in the cases of a father and child having no genetic connection, as well as if they are actually connected.
However, this figure is only true if the test is carried out correctly at every step in the procedure. There are two main reasons why a test may be carried out improperly and produce inaccurate results:
- The sample collected at home was contaminated by someone else’s DNA, food left on the inside of the mouth, or any number of foreign contaminants.
- The laboratory conducting the DNA analysis is of a poor quality and they contaminate the sample or their equipment produces an inaccurate result
For these reasons, it is crucial that you follow the steps provided in a home DNA testing kit exactly and ensure that no other DNA or foregin contaminant can get onto the swab.
It’s also very important to ensure that you’re using a reputable laboratory to analyze the results.
When looking at different testing kits to purchase, make sure you research the company that produces it and read through some reviews from previous customers to make 100% sure they won’t mess up your results.
Why Do People Take DNA Paternity Tests?
You might be wondering why some people need to go through the effort of having a DNA paternity test to determine whether someone is the father of a particular child.
The main reason is to identify fatherhood for legal reasons. Proving that someone is the father of a child means there is a legal obligation for them to pay child support fees in some parts of the world.
It also means that the proven father is entitled to child custody and social security benefits.
However, another good reason for proving paternity with a DNA test is that it can identify links to genetic conditions that can impact long-term health.
For example, it is important for any child that is placed for adoption to know of any health conditions such as diabetes that their father may have.
In cases where the father of a child is not known, underlying health conditions have gone undetected for too long and treatment was not able to be administered quickly enough.
There are plenty of other good reasons for wanting to conduct a DNA paternity test, but these are two of the main ones.
How Long Does It Take Home DNA Test Results To Come Back?
Because test kits are commercially available from certain retailers, there are a lot of different companies producing different qualities of test kits.
Some of the high-quality kits you can purchase online can promise results as quick as 2 business days after the sample is sent to the laboratory.
It’s likely that you’d have to pay a bit more for a service as fast as this but, if time is a significant factor for you, it’s always good to have that as an option.
However, with the more affordable test kits, results can take up to 12 weeks to return. Whilst this can seem like a frustratingly long time to wait, it’s important that the laboratory takes their time to ensure the results are accurate.
Because there’s so much difference between kits, it’s best to read the packaging carefully or ask the retailer to find out an accurate time frame for when you’ll have your results back.
Use these to stay organized as you discover your family history!