Are paternity tests always right? What about non-invasive prenatal tests?

What if the test has the wrong answer?  Quotes from Directors of some paternity laboratories shed light on the very real possibility that a paternity test may have the wrong answer.  This is even more of a concern for a prenatal paternity test from the mother’s blood.

In regard to tests after the baby is born, these were quotes from two different laboratory directors.

http://www.ptclabs.com/Images/Highstakestest.pdf

“But it only happens in maybe a handful of cases a year. It’s not a very common occurrence.”

and

“It only applies to a few borderline cases,” he said. “We’re not sending a guy to the gas chamber. We’re saying he has to pay child support.”

These are rather flippant attitudes toward determining the paternity of a child.

What about when a prenatal test is incorrect………the consequence?  It may very well be the equivalent of sending the baby to the gas chamber.  Pregnancies may be terminated based on the results of the test.

When people are literally making life and death decisions based on the results of the test, it is absolutely imperative that the test be accurate and reliable.

There are no rules or regulations.  Paternity testing is not protected by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA).  Although the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) offers accreditation, the accreditation for paternity testing is voluntary.  There are no government regulations.  You heard that right.  Absolutely none!  Often unscrupulous laboratories lie about being accredited.  There is no one to stop them.  The internet has no scruples.  A pretty website and a few lies go a long way.  A few pictures of doctors in scrubs or lab coats, a few false credentials, and a convincing “trust us, we have been doing this for years” and you are onboard.

The only way to know that you are obtaining a legitimate test is to go to an AABB accredited laboratory that offers non-invasive prenatal testing.  Non-invasive prenatal tests are too new to be accredited, but accredited laboratories can be trusted to employ testing methods that will result in reliable testing.

Historically, and in some cases presently, prenatal paternity testing from the mother’s blood has been incredibly inaccurate and unreliable.  The below link describes a laboratory(ies) (same lab, different names) claiming it has been possible for more than 10 years.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827893.200-the-danger-of-unreliable-paternity-tests.html

In our experience their test had no more reliability than flipping a coin.  It was every bit as likely to be incorrect as it was to correctly predict paternity of a child.  The scientists performing these unreliable tests have operated under many company names for more than 10 years and continue to tout their experience and reliability.  It is hard to know how many lives have been changed or for that matter eliminated because of this unreliable test.  The companies have very convincing web sites.  Even though they are located in Canada they often have New York or California PO Box addresses.  They brag about the fact that they have been doing this for more than 10 years.  They don’t mention that their tests are extremely unreliable.  When too many people complain about one company, they simply change their name.

http://www.trustlink.org/Reviews/DNA-Plus-205798724

http://www.ripoffreport.com/directory/dna-plus.aspx

Any website that boasts they have been accurately performing prenatal paternity testing from the mother’s blood for 10 years can’t be trusted.  See, for example,

http://www.prenatalgeneticscenter.com/services/prenatal-dna-paternity-test/

Non-invasive prenatal testing is a very new technology.

Now there are even online sites that claim to be able to perform a prenatal paternity test from a finger prick.

http://www.accu-metrics.com/prenatal-paternity.php

Scientifically, this is absurd.  There is barely enough fetal DNA in several tubes of the mother’s blood to perform a test, much less in a couple of drops from a finger prick.  But, if you are willing to buy it, then they are willing to sell it.  If it is just a guess, oh well.

If you or someone you know is going to have a non-invasive prenatal paternity test, make sure it is performed through a legitimate source.  If the laboratory is not on the AABB accredited laboratory list, it is not wise to trust them.  They may not even be a laboratory.

http://www.aabb.org/SA/FACILITIES/Pages/RTestAccrFac.aspx

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Posted on January 9, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. I am curious & it literally is driving me nuts! Can results be a false positive? I had blood drawn from me and & one of the alleged fathers only got tested and his mouth was swabbed. Now I really feel that it is incorrect, but I could be wrong. I just want to know, since I didnt have both fathers tested, could this test be wrong? Is it even possible to get results that the man is father & the results be wrong? I’ve done so much research on this topic & so many different things are popping up, its so confusing. I went to RavGen and I notice they are not on the aabb list of accredited places they reccommend. I would very much appreciate it, if I get a response. I wish I could just call someone, but this will have to do. Thank you so much!!!

    • Ashley,

      The usual reason that a paternity test could be a false positive is if the two alleged fathers are related to one another (eg. brothers). Non Invasive prenatal testing always adds another complex layer. Non invasive prenatal testing is not currently an accredited testing type by AABB, although that may change in the future. Because non invasive prenatal testing is not currently an accredited activity, this precludes Ravgen from accreditation at this time. My personal experiences with Ravgen have been favorable. Have you talked with the laboratory about your concerns?

      Testing the other alleged father is likely the easiest way to put your mind at ease. Another alternative is to have the test completed with conventional STR testing after the child is born for confirmation.

      I hope this helps.

      • Thank you for your response. To be honest, I just would love for the results to be wrong. I should probably call them and discuss with them, I just don’t want to be lied to because this is tearing my family apart. Thank you again!!

  2. I had this test done with 2 alleged fathers. The lab that performed the test is Natera. 1 father was included but the other 1 was an indeterminate result… I am scared..

    Is Natera a reliable lab?

    • Natera works with another reputable paternity lab, although I do not know very much about them. Prenatal testing from blood should be redone after a child is born for confirmation in a situation like this. It does not sound like the test is right/wrong, it sounds like they were not able to obtain a conclusive answer.

      • Realy? That’s weird. I live in the Netherlands, I sent a sample to a lab in the Netherlands en they say that Natera does the test. The testresult also came with the Natera logo on it. I know DDC sent it to Natera to.

        To which lab does Natara sent it?

        Yeah 1 alleged father was inconclusive. The other one was included.

  3. I believe that Natara does the testing. DDC is the only laboratory in the US that Natara works with. Natara also does work for many labs outside of the United States.

  4. Are there any false-positives known by Natera?
    They seem legit.

    • False positives are a tricky thing. A test can be technically right, but still not be accurate. This is where statistics matter. If 1 in 10 people could match and someone does is much different than if 1 in 1 million could people match and someone does. The person who matches when 1 in 10 matches still is a positive match, but may not necessarily be the father.

      • Yeah i understand that but not 1 in 10 people match. If that was the case that paternitytests in general are impossible i guess.

        My 2 alleged fathers have different racial backgrounds.

        Is it possible that the man that was included is not the father en the man that is inconclusive is indeed the father? This is very importante for me to know because i was raped. That’s why i did prenatal testing.

      • Most paternity tests contain a statistic that will help you measure the strength of your test. I do not know if Natara is providing that or if it is even possible with the type of testing that they perform.

        The statistic should guide you on what your next steps need to be. In addition, if there are two different ethnic groups involved, you need the statistics to be completed in both groups to fully understand the strength of your test.

        Given the importance of your situation, it really sounds to me like you might need this test completed using an amniocentesis or some other more proven method.

  5. Hi i recently had a prenatal test conducted with Natera via DDC and was excluded. Is it possible to obtain a false exclusion?

    • It is unlikely that an exclusion would be incorrect but it is always possible for a mistake to be made. I do not know how exclusions are checked in that laboratory, so I really can’t answer how likely a mistake could be. As with any non invasive test, I would always have the results checked after birth.

      • How accurate is an invasive prenatal paternitytest true amnio? Is it as reliable as an after birth test? If the father is included would there be any reason to doubt?

      • There are differences between a non invasive test vs. an amniocentesis or after bith test. An amnio and after birth testing is done using the same techniques and should give comparable results. Non invasive testing is completed using another testing technique and the results cannot be directly compared. Any test that is completed using an amniocentesis should be considered the same as an after birth test.

      • I just don’t understand that nobody wants to insure the accuracy of the non invasive test other than the labs that perform them. If that is the case than why are they available? Nobody that had such a test done is sure about the result. It is unfair to the consumer. If the test is not accurate or nobody wants to garanty ut, wouldn’t it be better not to offer it at all till it is figured out?

      • Accreditation for paternity testing is voluntary and there is no requirement by anyone to be approved other than for court admissible testing. Currently the accrediting body (AABB) does not review non invasive testing and probably won’t until the science is more proven, although that may be coming soon. There are several labs that purport to perform non invasive testing. Some of them do a much better job than others. The technology has to start somewhere, or the technology will never fully develop. The decision on whether a non invasive test is worth spending the money is up to the consumer and hopefully is explained fully to every client.

  6. I had a non invasive prenatel paternity test through viaguard. I’m not sure that I trust the results the people were very unorganized and unprofessional. What is the likeliness that they’re wrong? I did not see them on the accredited list.

    • To my knowledge, this is not a laboratory that is being used by Accredited Facilities. As with all prenatal non-invasive paternity tests, I would highly recommend that the test is repeated after the child is born.

  7. Hello,

    I am confused. Thera are labs that test 3000 SNPs with this test and there are labs that test a few dozen. They say it is plenty couse the rest we all have in commen (i know that isn’t true).

    What amount of SNPs should be tested to confirm paternity when it’s done noninvasive and prenatal?

    Thank you!

    • SNP testing can be completed and compared many different ways. The short answer to your question is that under the right circumstances, both can be accurate. A few dozen SNPs can be very reliable if they are good SNPs for relationship testing, while a few thousand SNPs can be accurate even if the SNPs tested are less than the best SNPs for the job. What it really comes down to is the expertise of the scientist completing the testing.

      • Is there a difference between the tests that need a swab from the father or tests that need a blooddraw?

        I want to do the test but can’t descide what company to use.

        DDC/Natera test thousands of SNPs and need a blooddraw from the fathers.

        Accu-metrics /Viaguard test a few dozen SNPs and need a swab from the fathers.

        Prenatal genetic center test 10-14 SNPs and want a swab from the fathers.

        Who know’s what way to go to get a accurate result…

      • The difference is not going to be in the sample type collected from the father. All DNA is the same, but one lab may be better setup to handle one sample type vs. another.

        First, 10-14 SNPs is not enough under any circumstances.

        Second, there are only 2 laboratories that I know of that accredited labs use for testing. One is DDC using Natera and the other is PTC using Ravgen.

      • Thank you! How many SNPs does Ravgen check? I have seen a paper from them! But i don’t remember if the amount of SNPs where told.

      • Ravgen typically starts with approximately 35 SNPs and then performs more testing if necessary based on the test results.

      • It’s not possible for me to check both guy’s. Is the test still reliable if i check
        only 1? It will be the 1 that most likely is the father of the baby. I understand that paternitytest are more based on exclusion that’s why i wonder.

  8. I am living proof that the non-invasive prenatal paternity tests are not always accurate considering I had two men tested to be my child’s father one says 0 the other said 98% the man who they said was my child’s father was tested months after my son’s birth and was proven not to be his father. Nightmare please retest after birth.!

  9. I got results back today, we did the non-invasive blood test. it excluded the father of my baby. I read in the “how to read results” sheet something about ocassional mutations that require “additional analysis.” Have you ever heard of this? I don’t care what anyone else says, in the past 3&1/2 years I have only been with one person, NO ONE ELSE!! As of right now, he won’t even speak to me. I am completely stressed & I don’t want him to miss out on the birth of his daughter. We used DDC, although we went to a local place to have our bloodwork done. Also, on the bottom of the explanation sheet it says aabb Accredited. Help, please!!

    • As far as I currently know, all non invasive testing is not accredited by AABB. You may verify that with AABB at accreditation@aabb.org. Have you contacted DDC and requested that they review your case? One of the most common things that can cause a test to be incorrect is when the wrong person is collected (example – another person presents themselves to intentionally alter the results). Was everyone’s sample collected at the same time? It is always a good idea to have a non invasive test repeated for confirmatory purposes after the birth of the child or with an amniocentesis.

      • We went together, so the samples were collected at the same time. I did call them today and the lady, Penny, I spoke with said they don’t make mistakes. She then told me they would gladly repeat the test for another $1650(same price we origionally paid), but the results would more than likely be the same. That was hger idea of reviewing the case as well, she basically went over the paperwork I already had in my hand. I did call my doctor’s office this morning, and the nurse said that she wasn’t familiar with prenatal paternity blood tests, so she had me bring copies of the results to office. Which I did around 10:45am, it’s now 4:15pm, and I haven’t heard back yet. It just doesn’t seem right, that they(DDC) can ruin an innocent baby’s relationship with her father, all in the name of profit.

      • I am sad to hear that they would not review your case or take you seriously. Your test can be repeated prenatally, but I would recommend doing an amniocentesis if you choose to do that. Not only is it less expensive (if your health insurance will approve the amino), but the test is more reliable.

        You can also file a complaint to AABB at accreditation@aabb.org and request that your case be reviewed.

      • I am waiting to hear back from my doctor. I called the office around 4:40, when they hadn’t gotten back with me. She had some deliveries come up, but hopefully she will get back with me tomorrow. One of the things I would like to discuss with her is the amino. Iam almost 38, so I’m hoping maybe insurance will cover some of it, otherwise, I will have to figure it out. Do you have any idea how long it takes to get the results back from the amnio? Also, what will he need to provide for the amnio? Thank you so much for your help and support.

  10. Can you please email me direclty at ptc@ptclabs.com? Thank you

  11. Has anyone recently used prenatal genetics center non-invasive prenatal paternity test. Is this company still producing inaccurate results?

  12. hello i was wondering has anyone used prenatal genetics center recently? did the results come back accurate?. . .i ordered the test before doing my research.

    • I had a prenatal paternity test completed back in October. The results were not what I wanted but I have learned to accept them. My only concern is do these test results hold up in court for child support or custody? I do not want the father in my child’s life and since I sent him a copy of the results I am worried he can try to use them against me.

      • Currently, test methods for non invasive testing are not approved by AABB and are therefore not automatically acceptable in court. That does not mean a judge will not accept the result with a lot of explanation or accept a result without knowing that is was not approved. It is always a good idea to have a prenatal noninvasive test confirmed after the child is born.

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