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’s essential to choose a laboratory—and paternity test—that you can absolutely trust to deliver accurate results. We’re living through the age of DNA and with it has come new companies promising top-notch services for rock-bottom pricing. So can you trust those cheap paternity tests? Maybe. But maybe not. Is saving a few dollars worth the risk? Here are 3 things to research before going with the lowest price.
1. Cheap Paternity Tests: Lack of Accreditations
A reputable laboratory is accredited by well-known and well-regarded non-profits 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 lab being accredited gives you peace of mind that there is independent oversight of the lab’s operations and that standards for excellence are being met. For a lab serving customers in the United States and Canada, accreditations to look for include (at a minimum):
- AABB (formerly American Association of Blood Banks)
- ANAB ISO/IEC 17025
- CAP (College of American Pathologists)
- CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments)
- NYSDOH (New York State Department of Health)
- SCC (Standards Council of Canada)
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 on the up and up and if they can count on accurate results.
2. Cheap Paternity Tests: Lab Has a Poor or Non-Existent Reputation
Thanks to online searches, you can determine in under 5 minutes whether or not a company has an excellent reputation in the industry. You can check real customer reviews (make sure they’re real!), research their staff, see photos of their facility, learn about prominent public cases they’ve worked on, important professional partnerships, more. Specifics to look into:
- Does the lab have a Chief Science Officer, and who is he/she?
- How long has the lab been in business?
- Does the lab employee a large team of PhDs to do DNA analysis?
- Are you ordering straight from the lab or does the lab “farm 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 cheap paternity tests doesn’t pass muster in these areas, beware!
3. Cheap Paternity Tests: Slow Results
Waiting for paternity-test results can be stressful, so getting fast results without sacrificing quality makes a big difference. For a postnatal paternity test (after the baby’s born), an acceptable turnaround time for results—once samples arrive at the lab—is two (2) business days. A good lab like DDC can even offer 1-day results upon request. Despite the extensive analysis required, an excellent prenatal paternity test has a 7-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 make it happen. One of the ways cheap paternity tests keep prices low is by providing relatively slow turnaround times (5-7 days even after the baby’s born), so you have to wait longer. Saving a few bucks is probably not worth all that extra stress.
The Bottom Line
Getting results you can trust is important. Cost is important too, but it shouldn’t be the #1 factor in your critical decision. Super-cheap tests can mean super-cheap results, which are just not worth the small cost savings.