DNA testing in Nigeria

In this article, we discuss DNA testing in Nigeria including consent, the document required, sample collection, laboratories to get it done and costs.

What is DNA?

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the component of human make up that makes each individual unique. It is the building block of our genes. Just as a house is built with bricks/blocks; and sand and cement are the main ingredients in the making of bricks and blocks. So also, our DNA is the sand and proteins are the cement that binds it together, while genes are the blocks that the house is composed of.

dna molecule
DNA molecule Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

A combination of different DNA makes a gene. The way the pattern of placing blocks upon each other or beside each other determines what the building turns out to be for example an apartment, shopping mall, a duplex or a block of flats, so does our genes determine our physical looks (phenotypic) and inborn traits (genetic) that make us behave in a certain way as well as predispose us to certain diseases.

Of course, there is a whole lot of interactions between our genes (genetic makeup) and our lifestyle/environment which further modifies the way our genes are expressed. For instance, a child born to parents who have diabetes is very likely to become diabetic themselves. However, this disease may be expressed as early as the twenties or later on at about the fifth or sixth decade of life. The difference in time of manifestation of the disease is the lifestyle: diet, physical activities and weight.

DNA is inherited at the point of conception from each parent. The mother and father each contribute half the number of chromosomes that makes the baby. Chromosomes are thread-like structures in which DNA is packaged with proteins. This means that a chromosome contains many genes which are made up of DNA. Every human being has 23 pairs of chromosomes with each parent contributing one of each pair.

chromosome
chromosome Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Twenty-two of these pairs are similar in both males and females. The sex chromosome is what differentiates male and female gender; the mother contributes “X” or the  “Y” chromosome. The child turns out to be a male if the father contributes a Y chromosome and female if the father contributes an X chromosome. Your DNA is present in virtually every cell in your body. Cells are basic building blocks of all living things.

Your DNA is in your blood, saliva, skin, hair and all body fluids including semen. Therefore, any of these body tissues may be used in the laboratory to do a DNA test. DNA testing may be done to determine an individual’s predisposition to certain diseases, the presence of abnormal genes (genetic mutations) and the paternity of a child. One of the most popular uses of a DNA test is in establishing the paternity of a child ie to know if the man is the biological father of the child. This may be done while the mother is pregnant or after the child is born.

Prenatal paternity DNA testing

W e often get asked questions like

  • Can a DNA test be done during pregnancy?
  • Can a DNA test be done during pregnancy in Nigeria?

Can a DNA test be done during pregnancy in Nigeria?

Yes, DNA testing can be done while pregnant. Amniocentesis and Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) are both two types of DNA testing that can both be carried out while still pregnant. Read about them on this page.

Amniocentesis

Prenatal paternity DNA testing may be done within the first three months of pregnancy using blood samples from the mother and alleged father(s). The water in the womb which covers the baby may also be taken for the test. This process called amniocentesis may be done between the 4th and 5th months of pregnancy. This is relatively a safe procedure however complications may arise following it and may put the life of the baby at risk.

Possible side effects Amniocentesis

  • vaginal bleeding
  • cramping
  • leakage of the amniotic fluid
  • Injection site irritation

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is another procedure that can be done during pregnancy in which a part of the placenta tissue is taken from the womb and tested with the alleged father’s blood sample. This CVS may be done between two to three months of pregnancy. The prenatal DNA testing is usually done when there is a controversy about the biological father of a child during pregnancy where the mother is unsure of who the biological father is.

Reasons why DNA testing may be required

  • Paternity disputes in a court of law: The judge would want documented evidence of who the true biological father of a child is. The sample must be collected by an independent third-party and result sent directly to the Judge and not to either of the parents.
  • During visa and immigration application: The embassy wants to ensure that the immigrants are not trying to escape with a stolen child and to reduce the risk of child trafficking.
  • Determining the biological father following surrogacy and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) pregnancies: Surrogacy is when a pregnancy is carried by a person who is not the biological mother of a child. Literally, a woman “rents out her womb” to house the child of another woman. Usually, the egg of the biological mother and sperm of the biological father is used for IVF and the embryo is transferred to the surrogate mother who then carries and births the baby. DNA testing may also be used to determine the biological mother of the child in this situation.
  • To obtain child support: DNA testing may be used to prove the paternity of a child and obtain child support especially if the alleged father is in doubt and refuses to pay child support.
  • Legal instructions in a will may be a source of dispute if the testator wills some of his belongings to a child whose existence was not made known to the family before the demise of the testator. Therefore, a DNA test may be done during the testator’s lifetime and attached to the legal instructions of a will to avoid disputes.

DNA test Sample collection

The test is done with blood samples or buccal swab. The blood sample is drawn with a needle and one may experience minimal pain. The buccal swab is taken from the inner part of the cheek and is usually painless.

dna testing mouth swab
A DNA testing mouth swab being taken -Credit: Andrey_Popov/shutterstock

Where to get DNA testing done in Nigeria

In Nigeria, there are various laboratories where DNA tests can be done all over the country. Click to see the laboratories where DNA testing can be done in Nigeria.

Cost of DNA testing in Nigeria (DNA test price in Nigeria)

How much is DNA test in Nigeria? DNA tests prices range between 80,000 naira and 300,000 naira for a pair of samples. e.g alleged father and child, alleged mother and child etc Turn over time ranges between two weeks to a month for most of these laboratories. However, the results may be expedited for an extra fee in some places.

What is the price of the DNA test in Nigeria?

DNA tests at prices range from between 80,000 naira and 300,000 naira for a pair of samples depending on the lab doing it.

DNA test requirement in Nigeria

Consent

All laboratories require a dully signed consent form from the Child’s legal guardian if he/she is still a minor. The consent forms are usually provided at the laboratories where it can be filled and signed. Most of the Laboratories require written consent from both the mother and alleged father while others would go ahead with only consent from either of the parents. Most of the labs require the following in addition to the consent form.

Documents required for the child

  • Child’s birth certificate
  • Childs passport photograph

Means of identification of both parents

  • International passport
  • Driver’s license
  • National ID card

Sometimes Physical presence of Child and Alleged father

About the author

Doctor

Grace is an internist currently practising in Nigeria. She has gained experience practising both in the private and public health sectors over the last ten years. She is passionate about giving patients adequate information about their health conditions. She believes that a large part of the management of chronic diseases lies with patients' understanding of their illnesses and the need for lifestyle modifications and medications.