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How does a DNA test work?

Massachusetts residents may know that paternity testing is able to establish the father's identity with a substantial degree of reliability. By matching the child's DNA to that of the father, it allows parents and children to have resolution on this issue.

Understanding paternity testing is based on one's knowledge of genetics. The DNA code for each individual is specific except in identical twins. However, paternity testing, except in rare instances, is rated at an inclusion rate of 99.9 percent. This means that there is a .01 percent chance that the individual is not the father. Conversely, if the individual is not the father, the test will provide a 100 percent exclusion rate.

A child receives 50 percent of his or her DNA from each parent. Since that is true for the parents as well, the child will have DNA that matches that of the grandparents more closely than the DNA of non-related, randomly chosen individuals.

DNA fingerprints are done by using restriction enzymes to cut the DNA at certain intervals. Since all DNA is made of combinations of the same four units, A, G, T and C, this technique looks for specific sequences to make the cut. The parents' DNA and the child's is cut using this method, and the resultant fragments are matched. If the fragment pattern matches that of the proposed parents, parentage is established by a factor of 99.9 percent.

Paternity is used to establish both the obligations of the father and his rights. Using DNA testing, paternity claims may be proven with a high degree of certainty. This gives the court opportunity to order visitation as well as child support. An attorney may assist a father gain access to the child. An attorney might help by presenting the results to the family court.

Source: DNA Genetic Connections, "All About Dna Testing Accuracy," 2014

Source: The Tech, "How does a paternity test work?", October 31, 2014

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