Skip to content

Information and Resources

Font Size

DNA Fingerprinting

Results

DNA fingerprinting is a test to identify and evaluate the genetic information—called DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)—in a person's cells.

DNA samples can:

  • Determine who a person's parents are (establish paternity and maternity). Tissue samples from two people can also be compared to determine how likely they are to be blood relatives.
  • Determine whether a suspect was present at a crime scene, by comparing DNA from the scene to the DNA of the suspect.
  • Positively identify a body. Bone and hair samples can be used to identify a badly decomposed body.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Sample size. The possibility of having inaccurate test results increases if a very small sample of DNA is available for testing. The chance that the DNA will be mixed up with some other DNA is also higher with a smaller sample.
  • Having had a blood transfusion within the past 3 months.
  • Decay of the tissue sample.

What To Think About

  • Because DNA fingerprinting has been used to identify bodies, such as military personnel killed in action or crime victims, DNA databases (much like fingerprint databases) have been developed. DNA fingerprinting is more accurate than traditional fingerprints, dental records, blood type, or ID tags for this purpose.
  • Although home paternity test kits are available, they are not as accurate as DNA fingerprinting, and the results cannot be used in a court of law. If you are thinking about using of one of these kits, talk with your doctor.
  • Other tests that can help determine the likelihood of two people being related or that can detect inherited diseases include karyotyping and genetic testing.

Other Works Consulted

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerSiobhan M. Dolan, MD, MPH - Reproductive Genetics
Current as ofMarch 12, 2014
1|2|3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
feet
Solutions for 19 types.
Woman running
Boost Your Metabolism.
build a better butt
How to build a better butt.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
young woman in sun
What to watch for.
brain scan with soda
Tips to kick the habit.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
stressed working woman
And how to fix them?
fat caliper
Check your BMI.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
man with indigestion
How to keep yours at bay.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.