Paternity Test During Pregnancy and Testing for DNA

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Non-Invasive paternity testing during pregnancy before birth

If you have any questions about who the baby's father is, then the most reliable paternity test method is testing for DNA, either during pregnancy or after delivery of the baby. DNA stands for "deoxyribonucleic acid" which is material present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes, carriers of genetic information that are found in the nucleus of most living cells.

In the past, DNA-based paternity tests were only available after delivery from tissue or blood collected from the baby and the alleged father. Or invasive tests had to be done during pregnancy potentially risking the baby's life. It is now possible to do paternity testing during pregnancy and prior to birth with a simple non-invasive blood test from the mother and a DNA test from the father. This new test was reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. It is now possible to do fetal DNA testing from the mother's blood as early as 8 weeks in pregnancy without risk to the baby, because only blood is collected from the mother without the need of an invasive test. The test is done because cells from the fetus float freely in the bloodstream of the pregnant mother as early as 8 weeks of the pregnancy. A company called DNA Diagnostics Center or DDC  can develop a DNA profile of the fetal cells and compare the profile to the DNA profile of the presumed father. A conclusive paternity test report can be delivered in as little as 3 business days after both DNA samples have been received.

If the alleged father is unavailable or unwilling to do a paternity test then a grandparentage test can be performed. This test uses the supposed father's parents' DNA to determine if the child is biologically related to the grandparents. This test determines if the child is a descendant of the grandparents, so if they had more than one son, all sons would be included as a potential father of the child.

DNA Paternity Test

The discovery of DNA was a huge leap toward understanding heredity and the way our parents' biology directly influences our own, since DNA is the ultimate "source code" of the human race. And since we get our genetic makeup directly from our parents-half from each parent-it is easy to determine whether a man is the biological father of a child based on the comparison of the two DNA samples.

Every human cell contains a copy of the entire DNA of the person, 50% of it comes from the mother and 50% from the baby's father.

doctor-takes-blood-test-from-woman

DNA samples can be obtained in a variety of ways, including:

  • Blood,
  • Cheek swab
  • Umbilical cord when the baby is born
  • Saliva
  • Semen
  • Hair, or
  • other piece of tissue.

There is the option for an invasive prenatal paternity test as well, although some of the invasive prenatal methods can sometimes pose some danger to the fetus and these procedures require the permission and help of an OB-GYN. The two main methods of invasive prenatal paternity tests are amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, or CVS, while there is the easy alternative of the non-invasive prenatal paternity test drone from the blood of the mother.

Amniocentesis for prenatal paternity test

Amniocentesis involves the doctor using ultrasound to guide a needle through the abdomen into the uterus to get a sample of amniotic fluid, which contains the baby's genetic material.

Chorionic villi sampling (CVS) for prenatal paternity test

During chorionic villi sampling (CVS) the doctor guides a needle up the vagina or through the mother's abdomen to collect pieces of tissue called chorionic villi off the walls of the uterus, which come from the fertilized egg and thus also have the baby's DNA.

Given the samples of at least the child and an alleged father, DNA paternity tests are held to be 99.999% accurate.

Can paternity testing be done prior to birth and during pregnancy

A paternity test can be done prior to birth of the baby. Previously, that required an invasive procedure like an amniocentesis or CVS chorionic villus sampling but now it can be done from a simple blood test from the mother as early as 8 weeks of the pregnancy.

The invasive tests come with certain risks to the baby, in cases where the paternity needs to be determined before the child is born, there are two invasive options for prenatal paternity testing - amniocentesis and CVS, and one on-invasive option, a blood test from the mother.

Many mothers will recognize CVS as being one of the tests offered during pregnancy. CVS, or chorionic villus sampling, takes a small piece of the villa that formed during the beginning weeks of gestation, usually around 12-14 weeks, and tests that DNA for a paternity match. After the 14th week of gestation, the CVS test can no longer be completed as the villa deteriorates.

After the 14th week of gestation, mothers can request an amniocentesis for paternity testing. The amniotic fluid carries the cells of the baby and these cells can be used to strip out the DNA needed for a paternal match. An amniocentesis can be done any time during pregnancy after 15 weeks, though most are done between 15 and 20 weeks.

The non-invasive blood test from the mother's blood is not risky and not associated with any risks to the pregnancy.

In utero paternity testing is expensive and may not be covered by medical insurance. There is also the risk of damage to the fetus or the amniotic sac. In rare cases, the fluid will continue to leak from the sac and the baby will need to be delivered or you have a miscarriage. Most often, the court system will need to be involved for a doctor to consent to prenatal paternity testing.

Paternity information for US states

Paternity laws differ from one state to the other. Below is more information on paternity establishment for the US states:

How Accurate is Paternity Testing?

Paternity testing is used to establish the biological paternal parent of a child. The paternity testing, like any other test, is close to 100% accurate but not completely 100%.

There are, however, results that cannot be contested in a court of law due to the overwhelming nature of the results. There are two forms of paternity testing results - the exclusion and the inclusion.

The exclusion paternity test can be considered 100% accurate. The DNA from the baby is tested against the DNA of the father. The father is responsible for ½ of the chromosomes in the baby's DNA and thus the test will exclude a father than does not have any matching pairs of chromosomes with the baby.
The inclusion paternity test is a bit different. The results of the inclusion paternity test will tell how likely the father is to be the biological match with the baby. In most cases, the results will appear as a percentage. The best percentage is 99% and above.
The results of the paternity test are determined by the number of loci pulled from the donors. The best test results come from a paternity test using 16 loci. The loci are another name for DNA match points. Some paternity testing facilities will only test 13 loci. This test results will be less accurate than a test using 16 loci.
While DNA paternity testing has advanced to great heights over the years with most test results reaching as high as 99.99%, the acceptable percentage for paternity testing is 97% probability.