How Accurate Are Home Paternity Tests?

Are you wondering if a home paternity test is as accurate as going to a lab? Don't buy that home DNA test until you read this first!

Nina Fenton
Published on

We've all seen the episodes of "Maury" where he bellows to his hooting studio audience that the gentleman on stage next to him "IS NOT the father." Sure, this proclamation is usually followed by some chest puffing and maybe even a few hysterical sobs by those intimately involved on stage, but not before the voyeuristic viewers secretly relish in receiving a front row seat to the paternity drama fest that unfolds.

If you need paternity testing, you can forgo these spectacles by opting for a low key solution, much like you may have seen on Health Street's VH1 show, Swab Stories. Paternity testing is not supposed to be a spectacle; it's about real people with families who are living the reality of determining the paternity of their children or loved ones - an incredibly personal issue. However, the Who's Your Daddy Truck may not be able to make a pit stop in your neighborhood, and even that option might be a bit too "over the top" for you.

You can also set up an appointment at a clinic near you:

But, what options do parents questioning the true paternity of their children have that are private and easy to use without going to a clinic? This is where we give the scientists and laboratories a major high five! Thankfully, this journey can now be navigated in the privacy of your own home, as home paternity tests quickly gain momentum vis a vis the clinic-based options. However, it's important to understand the differences, and the risks involved.

Paternity tests performed at home are just as easy and painless as the traditional ones performed in a clinic. Who needs the hassle of an appointment at a clinic when you can collect a few buccal cells from the inner cheeks of those involved and send it off to the lab to be processed. Soon after, the results will be headed your way, where you can then review them in private. Doesn't sound too bad, right? But read on...

Are Home Paternity Tests Accurate?

For most, the accuracy of your home paternity test is as equally important as the need for privacy and ease of testing. Just how accurate are home paternity tests, though?

There are 3 factors to consider:

  • 1) the quality of the lab you choose
  • 2) the quality of the kit that you purchase (and how long it's been sitting on the shelf)
  • 3) how well you follow the directions

Once you're certain that you can lock down your part of the test, you can then focus on finding a reputable and certified company with a good accuracy track record; the ball will be in their court once you send off your swabs loaded with DNA. Your best bet is to research the company performing the analysis in an effort to make the most informed decision possible.

Not all home paternity tests are created equal!

3 differences between various company's home DNA tests include:

  • 1) The number of genetic markers included in the analysis.
  • 2) The number of times they run the analysis
  • 3) The proficiency of the company and people that analyze the data and make the determination.

The bottom line is this: companies that offer low cost home DNA tests save money by testing fewer genetic markers tested (which reduces the statistical probabilities of the results) and running the specimens once (instead of twice). And what kind of statistical experts are these $69 DNA testing companies hiring, anyway? Can they really afford to pay the best and brightest?

Consider the qualifications of the lab used to analyze the test first and foremost. Ideally, the lab processing your test should be accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks and certified by the Clinical Laboratories Improvement Amendment. Having these stamps of approval is proof that the lab has passed some pretty tough tests and inspections prior to performing any tests of their own.

Think about it: there are a lot of places to save money in life. Is a paternity test one of those places you should be bargain shopping? The old adage applies: you get what you pay for. Luckily, your search for a top quality at home paternity test with a lab that checks an industry leading number of markers with world renowned PhD's analyzing your results may be shorter than you would have originally thought.

Health Street's home paternity test is the same, rigorous, 21 marker test with expert analysis that we offer in our clinics -- for about 50 bucks less. So, rest assured on quality. But now, let's talk about who should use this option vs. our clinic option...

Home DNA test vs. Clinic: Things to Consider

There are 4 things you should consider before deciding if a home paternity test is right for you:

  • 1) Consider the reason you're taking a paternity test in the first place. If you're simply interested in the results for a little (or a lot of) peace of mind, then a home test will suit your needs just fine. However, a home paternity test won't cut the cake if you need to determine paternity for legal purposes, since the results from a home test will not be valid court. You'll need to go back and get a legal paternity test anyway. There goes the savings you may have originally been seeking!
  • 2) If the child is under 18, it is always better to get a legal test. There are simply too many legal issues with children to waste valuable time and money on a home test. Legal tests can be used in birth certificate changes, custody battles, wills, estates, etc.; home tests offer none of those advantages.
  • 3) If the child is out of the country, and coming to a clinic is just not possible, then a home test is a good and accurate option. Just keep in mind that it can't be used for anything except peace of mind.
  • 4) Finally, if you're both adults, you're comfortable following the instructions on the kit, and there are no legal matters at stake, either now or in the future...then, a home test a great choice. Swab away!

Health Street offers many locations for DNA testing, including Eureka, CA, as well as location across the whole country.

Nina Fenton

Nina Fenton

DNA Testing

DNA Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative DNA testing stories.

DNA Testing

DNA Testing