General DNA Testing FAQs

What is DNA?

DNA is the acronym for a molecule called deoxyribonucleic acid. Often described as “the basic building block of life” or the “blueprint of the body”, it is the genetic material of all organisms, which is responsible for determining the inherited characteristics of an organism. Established at conception, when the father’s sperm cell fertilizes the mother’s egg cell, an individual inherits one-half of their DNA from each biological parent. In humans, DNA is found in most cells of the body. A large percentage of DNA is the same from person to person because similar biological processes must occur in all people. However, a small percentage of each person’s DNA is highly variable between different people, and every individual, with the exception of identical twins, has a unique DNA make-up that defines that person’s genetic characteristics. It is the person’s unique DNA make-up that allows DNA testing to accurately identify that individual.

How is a DNA sample collected?

A DNA sample is collected by rubbing a soft swab along the inside of the cheek – a process that is gentle enough for newborns. For a legal test, one of our authorized collectors will verify your identity and collect the mouth cheek swab. For Home DNA test, you collect the mouth cheek swab sample(s) yourself using the swab provided in the DNA collection kit(s) that we ship to you.

How reliable is DNA testing?

DNA testing is the most conclusive method available to prove biological relationships. When performed properly, DNA testing allows proof of parentage at levels of certainty that are beyond a reasonable doubt. To ensure that you receive the most reliable results possible, you should select an experienced and accredited laboratory.

Why is accreditation important?

Accreditation is important because DNA testing services are not regulated in Canada. Voluntary accreditation through the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) is one way for a laboratory to demonstrate that they have quality measures in place and staff, with the necessary education and training requirements, to perform DNA testing properly.

Is The DNA Lab a Canadian Company?

Yes – The DNA Lab is a division of Bureau Veritas, the largest scientific testing company in Canada. The customer service and laboratory operations for The DNA Lab are based in Ontario, Canada.

Where are the DNA samples analyzed?

All DNA samples sent to The DNA Lab are analyzed by our experienced scientists in our Guelph, Ontario DNA Laboratory.

If another DNA company has a Canadian address, can I be assured that Canadian Privacy Laws will protect my information?

No! There are very few accredited DNA Laboratories with full operations in Canada. The majority of DNA companies that you will find online, or be referred to, are re-sellers who have an “office” in Canada, but will send your genetic material and documentation outside of Canada for testing and storage. If this occurs, your information will not be protected and can be released to Foreign Governments without your knowledge. To ensure that you are working with an SCC-accredited Canadian DNA testing company, you should check the SCC website as it will list the laboratory address for each DNA Laboratory and their qualifications.

How do you protect my personal information?

As with other areas of clinical medicine or science, confidentiality is important in genetic testing. For that reason, we do not publish the DNA profile of the individuals being tested. Our reports include the conclusions of the analysis we conducted and our analysis is certified by our scientific staff. In addition, our work is conducted in a secure environment (as audited by Public Works and Government Services Canada) and all aspects of each project case are treated in a private and confidential manner.

What is your refund policy?

If you change your mind about your order, and samples have not yet been received at the laboratory, a refund can be provided. For home collection kits, a full refund minus a $75 (CAD) administration fee will apply. No refund will be provided after 12 months regardless of the status of the case. For legal or immigration testing, half of the total case fee will be refunded.

What are the basics of Paternity or Maternity DNA Testing?

At each genetic location (part of the DNA), a person possesses two pieces of DNA information called alleles. Each biological parent will only pass one of these alleles (at random) to their child such that half of the child’s alleles will match the biological father and the other half will match the biological mother.

If the alleles match between an alleged parent and child, the alleged parent cannot be excluded as the biological parent. The Combined Paternity (or Maternity) Index and Probability of Paternity (or Maternity) are calculated and included in the report.

If there are 3+ allele mismatches between an alleged parent and child, the alleged parent is excluded as the biological parent of the child and the Probability of Paternity (or Maternity) is 0%.
In a rare scenario, a mutation may have been passed on from a biological parent to their child. This occurs most often, yet still rarely, between a biological father and his child. When a mutation occurs, the child’s inherited allele may differ (mismatch) from the biological parent. When one (or two) mismatches are observed, it is reported as a “single (or double) system discrepancy”. If the child’s other biological parent was not originally tested, it may be recommended that they submit a sample for a more conclusive result

Why is the Donor’s ethnic origin asked?

The alleles that match between the alleged parent and child occur with different frequencies in different ethnic populations. For example, some alleles are more common in Caucasian individuals and less common in Hispanic individuals and vice versa. The statistical calculations depend on how common or rare the shared alleles are in a sampling of the general population (called a population database). The population database used for the statistics is based on the alleged parent’s selected ethnicity. In cases where no ethnic origin has been selected, the statistics will be based on the Caucasian population as a default.

Are DNA profiles included on a Paternity (or other relationship) DNA report?

The purpose of a Paternity (or other relationship) DNA report is to address the relationship in question. DNA profiles are not provided in order to protect each individual’s privacy.

For Legal DNA cases, a donor may request their own DNA profile (and/or the DNA profile of an underage biological child) in a separate DNA profile report. There is an additional fee for this supplemental report and written consent will be required specific to the release of your DNA profile to you

How conclusive is DNA paternity testing?

DNA testing is the most conclusive method available for parentage testing. If the alleged father possesses the DNA that must be given to the child by his/her true biological father, then the probability of paternity is calculated and is typically 99.95% or higher (if the biological mother was included in the testing). If the alleged father does NOT possess the DNA that must be given to the child by his/her true biological father, then the alleged father is excluded from being the biological father (the probability of paternity is 0%).

What does “excluded” as the biological father (or mother) mean?

The alleged father is not the biological father of the child because he does NOT share the necessary DNA with the child.

What does “… proven to be the biological father/mother” mean?

This means that the alleged father (or alleged mother) possesses the DNA (alleles) that must be given to the child by their biological father (or biological mother).

What does Combined Paternity (or Maternity) Index and Probability of Paternity (or Maternity) mean?

The Combined Paternity (or Maternity) Index is the likelihood of the observed results if the alleged parent is the true biological father/mother relative to a random and unrelated man/woman chosen from a specified population.

The Probability of Paternity (or Maternity) is the Combined Paternity (or Maternity) Index expressed as a percent probability to help make the statistic easier to understand.

Is testing the child’s biological mother needed in a paternity test? Or other relationship tests?

The mother is not required to get tested in a paternity test; however, it is highly recommended and testing the mother is provided at no extra cost.

The reason this is recommended is that half a person’s DNA comes from their biological mother and the remaining half comes from their biological father. By comparing the mother’s DNA with the child’s DNA it will help to determine which half came from the mother and therefore which half must have come from the biological father. Including the mother will typically produce a more conclusive result. In rare circumstances, not testing the mother can produce an inconclusive result.

Testing the child’s biological mother is recommended in most relationship testing scenarios (the exception is sibship DNA testing).

What does an “inconclusive” result mean?

An “inconclusive” result means the results neither support nor oppose the specified relationship. On a case-by-case basis, other individuals may be recommended for additional testing. Please call The DNA Lab to discuss possible options. Note: There is an additional fee for additional testing.

How long does DNA testing take?

The DNA Lab takes pride in a 5 business day (or less) turnaround time starting once all samples are received and full payment provided.

We can answer your specific DNA testing questions. Speak with a representative today.