How Much Is a Home DNA Test?

How Much Is a Home DNA Test?
Microgen/Shutterstock

Katie Gustafson
March 25, 2021

DNA technology has advanced rapidly over the past few decades, becoming faster, more sensitive and more accessible.

Curious consumers can now take a test at home and get the results from the lab within a couple of days. This option for learning more about your family has become popular: More than 26 million consumers have taken a home DNA test as of early 2019.

Whether you’re interested in your ancestry, want to learn more about your disease risk, or are skeptical about a child’s paternity, you might one day find yourself asking, “How much is a home DNA test?”

How much are home DNA tests for paternity?

A DNA test for paternity is a genetic analysis that determines whether a man is a particular child’s biological father. The test requires the suspected father and the child to have a mouth swab so that saliva from both of them can be analyzed for a variety of genetic markers. For the test to come back positive, it must show a 100 percent match between the man’s genetic markers being tested and the child’s.

The cost of the paternity test depends on whether you need it to be permissible in court. For results that you cannot use in court, you can collect your DNA at home and send it to an accredited laboratory for analysis. The cost of the lab analysis for mailed-in samples ranges from around $130 to $200. For results that will stand up in court, you need to get swabbed at a lab at a cost of around $300 to $500.

If you are doing an at-home test, the cost of the test kit you buy at the store might or might not include the lab fees. Test kits that don’t include fees cost around $15 to 30. You can get at-home test kits from a variety of major retailers.

Here are some ideas for where to purchase a home DNA test:

Walmart

· HomeDNA Paternity Kit ($14.99 + $139 lab fee paid separately)

· Choice DNA Laboratory Home Paternity Test Kit ($158.88, includes lab fees)

·

CVS

· HomeDNA Paternity Kit ($28.99 + $139 lab fee paid separately)

Walgreens

· HomeDNA Paternity Kit ($27.99 + $139 lab fee paid separately)

· Reveal DNA Paternity Test ($24.99 + $125 lab fee paid separately)

How accurate are home DNA tests?

Along with “How much is a home DNA test?” people also commonly ask how accurate they are.

The accuracy of a home paternity test can vary depending on a number of factors. The most important of those is the quality and reliability of the lab to which you send the samples, which is often closely related to the reputation of the company that sold you the test kit. No regulatory or accrediting agencies are tasked with overseeing the quality of paternity tests, so customers are left to determine reliability for themselves.

Labs performing paternity tests can be accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), so it’s a good idea to ask the testing company if they work with an AABB lab for their results.

“The in-home tests are not regulated,” said Dr. Monte Miller, director of Forensic DNA Experts. “However, the legal quality tests are regulated by the AABB, and if the samples are run at a lab that’s AABB-accredited, they are run in the same manner as a legal test.”

Another source of potential inaccuracy in home DNA tests is sample collection error. Users might collect the sample incorrectly or contaminate it in some way, leading to false or inconclusive results.

There’s also the possibility of fraud that can create inaccuracy in the process, considering that this method lacks verifiable identification of those being tested and chain of custody for samples. Someone can easily substitute another person’s DNA sample as their own to get the result they want.

“There’s no way to verify the participants,” said Miller. “And people don’t always take the best samples of themselves.”

It’s important to realize that not all home DNA tests are admissible in court. For them to stand up legally, tests must be done from samples with a legal chain of custody in an accredited laboratory.

“Chain of custody” means that the identity of the person giving the sample is verified and that that person’s sample is handled in a way that prevents fraud or mix-ups as it goes through the analysis process. If an accredited lab follows the chain-of-custody process, the results of the test will be legally admissible.

Modern paternity testing is accessible and affordable

Today’s genetic analysis technology has become so advanced that anyone can potentially determine their relationship to others using a simple home test and a couple hundred dollars.

The tests are widely available at major retailers and online, and results often come back within a couple of days.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.