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How Do DNA Testing Kits Work?

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DNA testing kits allow you to test your DNA at home. People may want to use DNA testing kits for a number of reasons. Some people use them to trace their ancestry and identify their genetic background. Others use them to prove paternity for a child. 

How do DNA Testing Kits Work?

DNA testing kits can be ordered for a number of online sources, or purchased in drug stores. The DNA testing kit will provide you with instructions on collecting a sample or samples of DNA. Usually, the DNA is collected by swabbing the inside of your mouth with a Q-tip, although in some cases, you can collect a piece of hair or other item containing DNA. You then mail the Q-tip or sample to a lab and receive results in a few days. 

Sending Your DNA Sample

If you choose to use a kit that tests DNA based on a saliva swab, you should not drink for several hours before taking the DNA swab. Used the included Q-tip that comes with the kit to scrape the inside of your cheek. Enclose the Q-tip in special packaging provided with the kit to protect the DNA.

You then send the Q-tip to the lab that offers the DNA testing kit. Different labs offer different services and charge different prices depending on the nature of the test and the extent of testing required to find a DNA match. Generally, you should look for a lab that is accredited or certified by the AABB.

DNA Testing

The lab that you send the DNA testing kit to will do a series of tests on the DNA to determine whether the DNA samples you sent match, if you sent in multiple samples. Most labs will perform several different tests to look for matches between the DNA or for “markers” that show that the two different strands of DNA come from the same lineage. For a paternity test, most DNA labs recommend sending both the mother's and father's DNA if available to ensure more accurate and timely results with less testing.

If you are having a DNA test to determine ancestry, instead of comparing samples, the test will simply determine where your ancestors came from on the basis of your unique DNA structure.

DNA Test Results

The results will usually be mailed back to the person who requested the DNA test. Some companies make results available to the customer on an Internet website. DNA test results are not usually given over the phone, but this rule varies depending on the lab that provided the home DNA testing kit.

DNA Testing Kits and Court Cases

Home DNA testing kits may not all be admissible in court. If you are filing a paternity suit, you may need to use special labs or court-mandated services to conduct the DNA test. However, the majority of labs do promise over 99% accuracy for home tests, regardless of whether the test will be used in a court of law or not. As a result, DNA home testing kits can be a reliable way to determine your lineage or the parentage of a child.

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