Types of DNA Tests and Services Available
Family Relationship DNA Tests
DNA technology has given us the ability to answer family relationship questions in a variety of personal situations and circumstances with a great degree of accuracy. The types of DNA family relationship tests that we offer are listed below. All of these tests ultimately address questions regarding paternity or maternity, but they do so in different ways, based on the individuals available for testing as well as the particular DNA test battery used for the test.
To determine if a tested man is the biological father of a tested child.
To determine if a tested woman is the biological mother of a tested child.
To determine if two tested individuals share one, both, or neither biological parents.
To determine paternity of a tested child by testing the biological parent(s) of an alleged father.
To determine paternity of a tested child by testing the biological brother or sister of an alleged father.
To determine paternity of a tested child by testing close relatives of an alleged father.
Paternal Lineage DNA Test
To determine if two males are in the same paternal line.
Maternal Lineage DNA Test
To determine if two individuals are in the same maternal family line.
Testing Options: Personal, Legal, or Immigration
Most of our DNA family relationship tests are available in these three different types. Which type should be used in a given situation depends primarily on the personal needs of the individual or family in question.
“PERSONAL” DNA Tests
Sometimes called “Personal Knowledge”, “Peace-of-Mind”, or “Home” DNA tests, these tests are designed to be used only for the personal information, curiosity, or peace-of-mind of the involved parties, with no need or intention for presenting the results in a legal setting or as certified proof regarding a blood relationship.
Personal DNA tests are NOT valid as evidence in a court of law or as official proof of family relationships. In most cases, this is because (1) the samples are not collected under a strict chain of custody by a neutral third party, so the origin of the samples is not verified and, as a result, (2) these tests do not meet, and are therefore not covered by, the rigorous standards of accreditation agencies—such as AABB—that are approved by the courts and other government agencies.
For these reasons, we do NOT recommend a Personal DNA test if you think you might want to later present the results in court or to another government agency or third party. For our personal tests, samples may be collected by us (at our main office only) or by you (using our home test kit or other methods).
Please note that, because the identity of the persons tested is not verified in a personal DNA test, we do not state last names of test participants on the test report. Rigorous quality control measures, including duplicate testing of all samples, are performed to ensure that the DNA typing results and stated conclusions are 99.99% accurate.
"LEGAL" DNA Tests
These tests, sometimes called “Legally-Admissible”, Court-Admissible,” or “Chain-of-Custody” DNA tests, are valid as evidence in a court of law and are acceptable as proof by government or private agencies requiring verification of family relationship before granting certain benefits. Such agencies include the Social Security Administration, the IRS, the U.S. Armed Forces, and Native American tribal membership committees. For these DNA tests, participants are identified photographically; written consent is obtained by the tested parties, their legal guardian, or court order; samples are collected and processed under a strict chain of custody by neutral third parties; and genetic analysis is performed using state-of-the-art forensic DNA typing technology. Our testing laboratory is highly certified and has maintained long-standing accreditation by the most respected organizations in the field, including AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks), College of American Pathologists (CAP), American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ASCLD/Lab-International), Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).
Our extensive quality control measures, including duplicate testing of all samples, ensure that our legally-admissible DNA tests are 99.99% accurate. Test reports for our legally-admissible tests are accompanied by a copies of the sample identification, collection and chain-of-custody records of each test participant.
For most DNA paternity tests and DNA family relationship tests, buccal swabs—cotton swabs on which epithelial cells lining the inside of the cheek of the mouth are collected—are the sample of choice. Collection of cheek swab samples is non-invasive, completely painless, and can be performed as early as the day of birth. DNA tests performed using cheek swab samples have the same accuracy as DNA tests performed using blood samples, because the cells in our cheek contain the same DNA as the cells in our blood (or any other cells in our body).
If stored properly, cheek swab samples are stable indefinitely. In some circumstances, however, testing of other types of samples can also be performed if necessary:
Samples We Can Test
For most DNA paternity tests and DNA family relationship tests, buccal swabs—cotton swabs on which epithelial cells lining the inside of the cheek of the mouth are collected, are the sample of choice. Collection of cheek swab samples is non-invasive, completely painless, and can be performed as early as the day of birth. DNA tests performed using cheek swab samples have the same accuracy as DNA tests performed using blood samples, because the cells in our cheek contain the same DNA as the cells in our blood (or any other cells in our body). If stored properly, cheek swab samples are stable indefinitely. In some circumstances, however, testing of other types of samples can also be performed if necessary:
- Blood — Preserved liquid blood in a vial or dried blood on a cloth
- Ear swabs — Cotton swabs of the inside of the ear
- Semen — Preserved in a vial or dried on a cloth
- Fingernail clippings — Five or more fingernail and/or toenail clippings is optimal
- Hair with roots — Ten or more hairs with good, visible roots is optimal. (Note: Cut hair will not work.)
- Prenatal samples — Both invasive (amniotic fluid, CVS) and non-invasive (blood) options exist
- Postmortem samples — Blood, tissue, bone, teeth, etc.
- Household items — Cigarette butts, toothbrushes, stained garments, etc.
- Buccal (cheek) swabs — Cotton swabs of the inside the cheeks of the mouth
Other DNA Testing Services
- Mobile DNA Testing Services – DNA sample collections at hospitals, homes, or businesses
- Expert Witness Services – Courtroom testimony, depositions
- Expert Consultation – Case review, legal declarations