It could be one of the most important tests you take. Ever. Results from a DNA paternity test can have far-reaching consequences and affect your most important family relationships. With so much at stake, it is essential to choose a laboratory—and paternity test—that you can absolutely trust to deliver accurate results. We are living through the age of DNA science and with it have come new companies promising top-notch services for rock-bottom pricing. So can you trust those inexpensive paternity tests? Maybe. But maybe not. Is saving a few quid worth the risk? Here are three items to research before going with the lowest price.
1. Inexpensive Paternity Tests: Lack of Accreditations
A reputable laboratory is accredited by well-known and well-regarded non-profit organizations and other entities whose job it is to ensure the validity of DNA tests, testing methods, competency of the lab’s scientists, technicians, and staff, as well as accuracy of results. The laboratory being accredited provides you peace of mind that there is independent oversight of the lab’s operations and that standards for excellence are being met. For a laboratory serving customers in the UK, accreditations to look for include (at a minimum):
- Ministry of Justice
- AABB (American Association of Blood Banks)
- ANAB ISO/IEC 17025
- CAP (College of American Pathologists)
- CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments)
- NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia)
Any laboratory can claim to be accredited, but if it truly is, those accreditations should be featured prominently on their website and perhaps even on their own dedicated page.
Why this matters: A laboratory with prices that are significantly lower than its competitors could be cutting corners in order to reduce costs. Without accrediting bodies performing regular audits, consumers have no way of really knowing if the DNA-testing company is legitimate and if they can count on accurate results.
2. Inexpensive Paternity Tests: Laboratory Has a Poor or Non-Existent Reputation
Thanks to online searches, you can determine in under five minutes whether or not a company has an excellent reputation in the industry. You can check real customer reviews (make sure they are real) research their staff, see photos of their facility, learn about prominent public cases they’ve worked on, important professional partnerships, and more. Specifics to look into:
- Does the laboratory have a Chief Science Officer, and who is it?
- How long has the laboratory been in business?
- Does the laboratory employee a large team of PhDs to do DNA analysis?
- Are you ordering straight from the laboratory or does the laboratory “send out” their testing services? This can raise privacy and security concerns
These are just a few important searches you can do to ensure the lab you select is reputable. If a company offering inexpensive paternity tests does not pass muster in these areas, beware!
3. Inexpensive Paternity Tests: Inordinately Slow Results
Waiting for paternity-test results can be stressful, therefore obtaining fast results without sacrificing quality makes a big difference. For a postnatal paternity test (after the baby is born), an acceptable turnaround time for results—once samples arrive at the laboratory—is 3 – 4 business days. Despite the extensive analysis required, an excellent prenatal paternity test has an 8-day turnaround time and even has the capability to offer faster results upon request and for an additional fee. This is because the lab has enough trained staff and advanced equipment to provide this convenience. One of the ways inexpensive paternity tests keep prices low is by providing relatively slow turnaround times (5-7 days even after the baby is born), so you have to wait longer. Saving a few pounds is probably not worth the additional stress.
The Bottom Line
Obtaining results you can trust is important. Cost is important too, but it should not be the primary factor in your critical decision. Super-inexpensive tests can mean super-inferior results, which are just not worth the small cost savings.
If you need additional information about a DNA test or would like to order, contact our experienced customer-service team on 020 3301 7346.