Do-it-yourself DNA tests have been put on sale over the counter in chemists for the first time, a laboratory has said.
Independent chemists are stocking paternity kits to allow couples to establish the parent of a child without having to bring in the lawyers, Anglia DNA said.
The firm behind the kit, which is initially being sold in about 50 independent chemists around the UK, said it would offer parents “peace of mind”.
Talks are also under way between the Norwich-based firm and some high street retailers.
But Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said the regulatory body for DNA testing, the Human Tissue Authority, needs to consider whether current regulations will still apply for the over counter sales.
“These DIY kits inevitably will cause enormous affect on those involved,” he said.
“There is an urgent need for new regulation to reflect this development because it has happened quite out of the blue.
“It is really important that the Human Tissue Authority considers both the positive and negative implications of this.”
Business development manager Tom Howell said the company seeks assurances that couples had considered the best interests of the child and what the consequences of the results may be.
He stressed the father, mother and child all must give consent before the test is carried out. The mother usually gives consent on behalf of the child.
“DNA testing used to exist online but now people can buy kits from an environment they feel comfortable with,” said Mr Howell. “It takes away doubt and concerns and means people can move on with their lives. It is very rare that people get back results that they do not expect.”
The kits, which cost £29.99 plus a £129 lab fee, allow couples to take a DNA sample using a mouth swab and then the samples are posted to a Norfolk laboratory for testing. The results are returned five days later.
Anglia DNA, which was set up in 2004, is accredited by the Ministry of Justice to carry out DNA tests for the courts. The results of the over the counter tests have no legal standing but the company offers an upgraded kit with different legal forms.
DNA kits have been available over the internet for a number of years but this is the first time they are available in chemists.