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Paternity Test - What is it?

The paternity test is a so-called gene test (DNA analysis), which is carried out to clarify a relationship between two or more persons. As a rule, a saliva or blood sample from mother, child and their possible father is used for this purpose.

In a paternity test, so-called non-coding DNA areas are analysed which are not responsible for personality traits such as eye and hair colour or body shape. These genetically silent DNA regions have a fingerprint characteristic of each person.

All commercially available paternity tests are limited to the analysis of a few DNA segments (so-called microsatellites or STRs: short tandem repeats) distributed across different chromosomes. As a reminder, each human being has 23 pairs of chromosomes, one from the father and one from the mother. Thus, the STRs analysed also have two different expression patterns (alleles); one from the mother and one from the father. The selected STRs are also characterized by a high genetic variation between individuals. The paternity test is now based on the principle that there must be a match between the alleles of the mother and the suspected father for all examined STRs of an individual.

In our laboratory we analyse 15 different STRs using modern molecular biology technologies (PCR and capillary electrophoresis) to clarify a relationship.

Paternity test - When is a gene test required and which provider is the right one?

If a child is born in a marriage, the husband is automatically considered the legal father. If he does not believe that he is the natural father of the child, he can challenge this in court. If the child is illegitimate, the father may recognise the child before or after birth at the registry office. If the father denies paternity, the child and adult protection authority KESB (formerly the guardianship authority) has a say: the child receives assistance, which must settle both the question of paternity (if necessary with a trial) and the child's maintenance. These two situations are the most common basis for conducting a paternity test.
In Switzerland, paternity examinations offered via the Internet and carried out without the consent of all persons involved (mother, child or father) are punishable by law. A paternity test or the resulting expert opinion is only valid in court if the laboratory has the operating licence of the Federal Office of Police fedpol. This is subject to the conditions defined in the Federal Act on Genetic Testing of Human Beings (GUMG) and its Ordinance on the Creation of DNA Profiles in Civil and Administrative Matters (VDZV).
In Switzerland, the institutes for forensic medicine as well as some private laboratories recognised by fedpol can be regarded as reputable providers of DNA paternity analyses. Depending on the laboratory, the analysis costs for a legitimate paternity check (3 persons) amount to approx. 900 to 2000 Swiss francs. Microsynth is one of the most renowned providers in Switzerland (we have been offering paternity analyses since 2003) with an excellent price-performance ratio. A typical paternity check (father, mother, child) only takes about 1 week and costs 850 CHF (without sampling and excl. VAT).