We know: All About DNA Testing

What is DNA?

Every human cell contains DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which carries the unique genetic code for that individual. DNA molecules are like finger prints, in that they can help us tell one individual from another.

They can also help us tell if one individual is related, genetically, to another.

What is DNA testing and who does it?

DNA testing is a way to analyze a person's DNA, usually to look for medical problems, or to determine if individuals are related, or determine if someone has been present at a crime scene.

There are numerous companies who will provide DNA testing to anyone who pays for the service.

How do I have my DNA tested?

Generally, you contact a company that provides testing and they send you a kit with which to take a sample. You usually take the sample by running a swab along the inside of your mouth in order to gather what are called 'buccal cells'.

The DNA in your cells is the same, no matter what part of the body they come from, so companies ask you to swab the inside of your mouth because it's relatively clean and painless, and is easier than drawing blood.

You then send your sample and the sample of the person who's relationship you are trying to determine, off to the company's lab for testing.

How long does it take to receive test results?

Usually between five days and two weeks.

What kinds of DNA tests are there?

You can find out the following information from DNA testing:

  • paternity of a child
  • maternity of a child
  • whether twins are identical or not
  • grandparentage of a child
  • Y chromosome testing to help determine male ancestry

It is also possible to use samples of hair, blood, semen, chewing gum or dried saliva to determine the identity of an unknown individual.

How much does DNA testing cost?

Testing can cost from about $150 to several hundred dollars.

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