How Accurate is Genetic Paternity Testing?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Genetic paternity testing is considered highly accurate because the DNA of the child is compared with that of the man in question.
Genetic paternity testing is considered highly accurate because the DNA of the child is compared with that of the man in question.

Genetic paternity testing is considered highly accurate. In most cases, this type of testing can identify whether or not a man is the father of the child in question with nearly 100-percent accuracy. Genetic paternity tests usually include two different types of testing. One is intended to determine if there is a chance a man could be the father of the child in question; this is referred to as an exclusion test. Next, there is a test that focuses on determining if a man is actually the father of the child, which is called an inclusive test.

The DNA in cheek cells is no different from the DNA in blood cells.
The DNA in cheek cells is no different from the DNA in blood cells.

One of the reasons genetic paternity testing is considered so accurate is because there are usually two types of tests involved rather than just one. One type of paternity test is referred to as an exclusion test. This test, which normally is considered 100-percent accurate, is intended to determine whether or not it is possible that a man is the father of a child based on a comparison of his DNA pattern and the DNA pattern of the child. If the man is excluded, there is no chance he could be the father of the child in question. If the test does not exclude the man from being the father of the child, further testing is needed to determine paternity.

Paternity testing can be conducted when a man wants to find out if a child is actually his.
Paternity testing can be conducted when a man wants to find out if a child is actually his.

The other result gained from genetic paternity testing is the one that is intended to determine whether or not a man who has not been genetically excluded as the father of a child is most likely the child's parent. It is worth noting that there is no inclusive genetic paternity test that is 100-percent accurate. There is always at least some room for error. The inclusive part of a genetic paternity test is usually over 99-percent accurate, however. This means there is less than a one-percent chance that a man will be identified or excluded as the father of a child in error.

Testing the mother during a paternity test can increase the level of accuracy when determining the father.
Testing the mother during a paternity test can increase the level of accuracy when determining the father.

Interestingly, mothers aren’t always tested when it comes to genetic paternity testing. When they are tested, however, their results may make performing the paternity test easier and increase the level of accuracy one can expect from the test. This is due to the fact that testers can consider a mother's genetic contribution to a child’s DNA sequence. By subtracting the patterns in the child’s DNA that came from the mother, testers may find comparing the potential father’s DNA pattern to the child’s easier and more conclusive.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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    • Genetic paternity testing is considered highly accurate because the DNA of the child is compared with that of the man in question.
      Genetic paternity testing is considered highly accurate because the DNA of the child is compared with that of the man in question.
    • The DNA in cheek cells is no different from the DNA in blood cells.
      The DNA in cheek cells is no different from the DNA in blood cells.
    • Paternity testing can be conducted when a man wants to find out if a child is actually his.
      Paternity testing can be conducted when a man wants to find out if a child is actually his.
    • Testing the mother during a paternity test can increase the level of accuracy when determining the father.
      Testing the mother during a paternity test can increase the level of accuracy when determining the father.
    • Genetic paternity testing is nearly 100 percent accurate.
      Genetic paternity testing is nearly 100 percent accurate.