Frequently Asked Questions
The decision to have a paternity test should not be taken lightly and you may have lots of questions. We urge you to consider all of the people involved and to decide whether this is the best course of action, particularly for any children in question.
Here’s a selection of the most frequently asked questions about DNA testing.
Do you offer Peace of Mind testing?
Yes but our peace of mind reports (results) cannot be used for any legal reason such as changing a birth certificate.
What is DNA Paternity Testing?
DNA paternity testing is when specific sections of the genetic code of usually a mother, possible father and child are compared to determine whether the possible father is the biological father of the child. Think of DNA as the building blocks of life. If the mother has a red block, and the possible father has blue, you would expect the child to have either red, blue or purple. If the child has a green block, the possible father cannot be the biological father.
How does DNA testing work?
It works by detecting certain parts, or ‘markers’ in the DNA molecule that are known to vary greatly between random unrelated people. Our tests compare the DNA at a number of these markers to determine if people are related. This process is called Short Tandem Repeat (STR) profiling. STR profiling is a very sensitive DNA testing procedure which was originally developed for forensic analysis. DNA is extracted from the sample and a special enzyme is used to copy the genetic code at the relevant regions in the DNA. An STR profile is the result of several separate DNA tests.
How long will the test take?
NorthGene produces standard reports within 3-5 working days from when we receive all of the samples in our laboratory. Should you require a faster turnaround time please call to enquire. We may be able to offer 24 hour and 48 hour turnaround times at an extra cost, however please contact us to discuss this as it is dependent upon availability.
Is the DNA test accurate and can it be wrong?
When a mother, child and possible father are tested NorthGene’s results will either show he is not the father or normally provide proof of paternity with a confidence level of 99.99% and usually greater than 99.999%. We also carry out other types of relationship testing, for further details please contact our Customer Service team on 0191 2331414.
Is the service confidential?
Yes, under the requirements of UK Data Protection laws, the service and results are confidential. All adult parties who have submitted a sample for analysis will receive a copy of the report. Results are not passed on to any third parties unless you request us to do so. In order to further protect confidentiality we do not give out results of tests over the telephone.
How are the DNA samples taken?
For a Peace of Mind test you can take the samples yourself in your own home. We do suggest that all parties are present to witness the samples being taken. If you require a legal test then you will need to make an appointment to have your samples taken in our NHS clinic in the International Centre for Life, Newcastle or by an approved sampler, this is usually a GP. We can also usually arrange for a sample collector to attend a place of work or solicitors office. At that appointment a mouth swab will be rubbed gently and painlessly on the inside of your mouth to collect a sample of cheek cells. You will also need to complete a consent form (please remember to take 2 passport style photographs of each person being tested to the appointment) and these and the sample will then sent to NorthGene by the sample collector.
Ensure all sections of the form supplied in the testing pack have been fully completed, a Principal Contact telephone number given and the Client Consent section above has been signed and dated.
Write the name, date of birth and relationship on two of the plastic containers supplied (holding the swabs) for each individual being tested. Please note unlabelled containers will not be tested.
Using a twist and pull motion remove the swab from its plastic container. Ensure that the cotton bud end of the swab only contacts the individual from whom the sample is being taken.
Firmly rub the cotton bud end of the swab on the inside of the cheek. Please rotate the swab whilst doing so in order to maximise cell collection. Approximately 20 rubbing movements should be sufficient.
Replace the swab into the plastic container for the individual being tested, push down the lid firmly to seal it then repeat the process with the swab from the second plastic container with the donor’s name on the label.
Place all used swabs, along with their containers and the completed form into the tamper evident bag supplied and seal. The postage for the bag is pre-paid. Once your swabs have been taken, ensure they are immediately returned to NorthGene to prevent the samples degrading.
How are the results analysed?
When carrying out a paternity test the DNA of the mother, the child and the possible father are compared using the latest DNA analysis technology. A child inherits half their DNA from each parent and therefore every genetic marker in the child’s DNA should be present in either the mother or the father. Our laboratory team compare the child’s DNA to the mother initially and remove the DNA that she has passed onto the child. Therefore what remains at this stage could only have come from the child’s biological father and if this matches our tested male we then calculate the probability of paternity. We can also test without using the mother’s DNA when necessary.
Are the tests acceptable evidence in a court of law?
Yes, NorthGene has been accredited by the Ministry of Justice as a body that may carry out parentage tests directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969.
NorthGene is commited to providing an exceptional high quality service throughout our testing portfolio and our ISO and Ministry of Justice accreditations are testament to this. A strict chain of cusody is followed throughout the sample taking and testing process to ensure accurate results at all times.
Will the results be accepted by the UK Home Office?
NorthGene has been accredited by the Ministry of Justice as a body that may carry out parentage tests directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969. This is a requirement of anyone carrying out a test for the UK Home Office. We cannot however guarantee any acceptance of visa or passport applications.
How do I confirm who is being tested?
Two passport sized photographs and the signatures of each person being tested must be presented at the sampling appointment. These can be used to confirm the identity of the person(s) being tested and are sent with the samples to NorthGene. In paternity cases all identification paperwork is held by NorthGene for a period of 1 year for any section 20 court directed cases or 10 years for all other cases after which time the paperwork is destroyed in compliance with our registration with the Data Protection Act.
From what age can a child be tested?
The use of mouth swabs means that testing can be performed on a child of any age after birth.
Can I have the test before the baby is born?
No, NorthGene does not offer pre-natal testing.
Can you take a sample from my child without the mother being informed?
Only if the potential father has parental responsibility for the child, such as being on the birth certificate for a child born after December 2003, otherwise the mother must give consent for the child to give a sample. The other exception is if the test is ordered by the Courts.
Can I take a DNA sample from someone and run a DNA test without them knowing?
No. Every adult involved in the DNA testing process must give their consent. “It may be a criminal offence under section 45 of the Human Tissue Act 2004 to carry out testing on a sample taken from someone without their knowledge or consent. This offence carries a penalty of up to three years imprisonment or a fine or both.”
What about Quality Control and Standards?
NorthGene laboratories are accredited to ISO 17025 and we are accredited by the Ministry of Justice as a body that may carry out parentage tests (otherwise called DNA Testing or Paternity Testing) as directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969 and we also adhere to the Human Genetics Commissions “Common Framework of Principles on DNA testing”.
Can other kinds of relationships be tested?
How can I register for the test?
Will my DNA sample be safe?
All samples are sent to NorthGene’s laboratories in tamper-evident packaging, if any tampering is evident the samples will be rejected. Once testing is complete and you have received the test results, your DNA sample is stored securely for 6 months after which time it is destroyed. Please let us know if you require the sample to be destroyed immediately after use.
Is help available after I get my results?
If you have any questions about the results themselves please get in touch with one of our experienced Client Liaison Officers on 0191 233 1414 who will be happy to try and help where possible.