How Much do DNA Tests Cost in the Hospital?

If you are seeking a hospital DNA test then the information you are looking for goes way beyond an ethnicity estimate of a search for cousin matches. The chances are you may be seeking the answers to a parentage situation which may have legal ramifications.

In this post we will take a look at all the levels of paternity testing, their costs and their potential use for legal purposes.

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At Home Paternity DNA Tests

This is the least expensive and lowest tier DNA test and is available over the counter and many pharmacies and drug stores. The general cost of one of these paternity tests is around $150 and is performed by simple mouth swabs. This is obviously a postnatal option to test babies, children and adults.

These swabs are then sent by the consumer by mail to the lab who will test both samples and make a determination regarding a positive or negative paternity between the two samples.

Official Laboratory Testing

This is a more formal process which is advised for those who need the test results for legal purposes such as proving paternity in a child support case. As it is more official it requires a trip to the lab for both parties to be tested and officially recorded.

It is a postnatal test that requires cheek swabs and as it is more official it is obviously going to be more expensive than the over the counter tests. The average range for one of these lab tests is $400 - $800.

Prices can be even higher if you require a quick turn around of your results with some companies asking close to $1000 for same day results.

Prenatal Paternity Testing

In some cases paternity may need determination before the baby is born which obviously is not an optimal time to do so. There are inherent risks in doing this and as such it can be very costly. This is also not the kind of thing that most health insurance policies will cover as it is not considered essential.

The general cost of a prenatal DNA test can range from $1000 - $2000 covering the collection procedure and the actual testing. However, if the mother requires an amniocentesis for another non DNA related issue then this testing can be performed at the same time avoiding the procedure charges.

What Is Required for an Official Paternity DNA Test?

If the purposes of the test are to legally prove the parentage of a child then there are certain requirements that must be met. This usually will mean that an over the counter test is not sufficient proof.

In order for the test results to hold up in a court of law it requires a solid chain of custody. This means that both parties must submit to testing in person to a third accredited company. Valid photo ID and often fingerprinting will also be required as proof of identity.

The test may either be performed using a cheek swab or by drawing a blood sample. The child, its mother and the potential father are all tested for this process.

In the case of prenatal testing then a qualified doctor must perform the procedure. This may be a placental cell sample gathered during the 10th – 13th weeks of the pregnancy or amniotic fluid collected through the 14th- 24th weeks of the pregnancy.

How Is It Tested?

Once the samples have been officially collected they are taken to be tested in the lab. The relevant chemicals are added to the samples which help to extract the DNA reading for testing. A technician will then analyze 16 specific locations on the DNA of all the tested individuals.

The technician compares these 16 locations on all of the individuals to each other and pays close attention to the child and potential father comparison. They next perform a statistical calculation to determine the percentage probability of the man being the father of the said child.

The Risks

Postnatal DNA tests carry essentially no risks although they are either a cheek swab or a blood sample. Obviously though taking any blood sample with a needle does pose the highly unlikely risk of a needle getting used more than once. Honestly it probably isn’t worth mentioning such a risk as any reputable company will have safeguards against such accidents but it is not impossible.

The real risk is prenatal testing because whichever way you obtain these DNA samples it involves a very invasive procedure. Whether testing placental cells of amniotic fluid a needle is passed through the abdomen and into the womb.

The procedures can not be performed prior to the 10th week of pregnancy and even if done in the safest stage can still potentially lead to a miscarriage. As mentioned if there is another medical reason for an amniocentesis to be performed a DNA test can be done at that time.

If paternity is an issue that needs to be determined it is advised that people should wait until the child has been born.


An official hospital DNA test would be one that is performed on prenatal babies. This requires an invasive procedure to either collect cells from the placenta of a small amount of amniotic fluid. Whichever procedure is required they are generally not covered by insurance as they are elective procedures.

Hospital DNA tests then can cost between $1000 - $2000 which would include the procedure and the DNA test itself. Waiting until the child is born would allow you to perform a non-invasive cheek swab test which if performed for legal purposes costs between $400 - $800.

If the results are not needed for any legal proceedings you can get a DNA test for far less. In-home tests that you can buy at the drug store cost in the region of $150 and can be done at home and mailed to a laboratory for testing.

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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