Mobile DNA testing facility raises reliability concerns
A 28-foot mobile DNA testing facility has raised questions about its ramifications of easy and fast DNA testing, determining paternity and other biological associations.
As reported by the Vancouver Sun, the mobile recreation vehicle, dubbed “Who’s Your Daddy?” is owned by Jared Rosenthal. He is also the founder of a New York-based company called Health Street. The mobile clinic offers on-the-spot DNA testing services with fees starting at US$299.
The DNA samples, taken by a technician in the van, are then packaged and sent to a laboratory in Ohio. Customers then receive DNA results within a week, and mandatory prescriptions for the tests from a customer’s physician can received electronically by the clinic.
The need for DNA testing services has risen for the last couple of years, with close to 500,000 tests per year. And although DNA testing is common in the country today, Health Street appears to be the first of its business to offer mobile DNA testing.
“It’s just such a serious, fundamental question,” said Rosenthal. “Who are your children? Who are your parents?”
He also added that Health Street’s laboratory facility is certified by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and the New York State Department of Health. Health Street customers are also required to show a doctor’s prescription requesting for the tests since paternity testing is usually not covered by health insurance unless there is a medical need.
Susan Crockin, a lawyer who specializes in reproductive technology and teaches at Georgetown Law Center, stated that families who considering to try DNA testing should take extra precaution of the reliability of the growing variety of DNA testing services around the country. These tests includes at-home DNA kits which critics believe to be subject to contamination and on-site DNA tests which are used to prove legal paternity.
“The underlying issues are obviously the quality of testing,” Crockin said.
Health experts strongly recommend that customers should only use laboratories that are accredited by the AABB or distributors who uses AABB-accredited labs.
Do you think that mobile DNA testing facilities such as “Who’s Your Daddy?” are safe and reliable?