The question of paternity is one many pregnant women face. Despite advances in our society and western culture as a whole, asking about paternity is still a touchy subject. More than 50-percent of children born to women younger than 30 years are not associated with marriage. Paternal identification used to mean waiting until the infant was born and testing cells collected from the cheek of the infant with a sample provided by the father in question. New tests are being developed to determine paternity as early as the eighth week of pregnancy so women don’t have to wait to find out who the father is.
Are the paternity tests safe?
The early paternity tests being developed are completely safe and pose no risk to the fetus. The test is based on a blood test so pregnant women have to submit a blood sample, but the fetus is not affected by the test in any way.
Why is an early paternity test important?
When a pregnant woman is able to find out the definitive identity of the father early in the pregnancy it can reduce stress and possibly reduce the risk of pregnancy complications associated with stress. If the question of paternity is causing the potential father to second guess providing for the mother and infant financially, early testing can put to rest those problems and open up the door for an improved relationship between the mother and father.
Changes in paternity testing and fetal health
There is a huge push to improve paternity and prenatal testing as a whole. Current testing methods may place the fetus and mother at risk of pregnancy complications and may lead to miscarriage or early delivery. This is the first paternity test to be developed using blood samples, but improvements on the test are needed. There is a wide range of false results – up to 30-percent inaccuracy. The mean false result rate is about 4-percent.
The legality of the early paternity test
The early pregnancy test currently being developed is not yet legal, which means the results of the test cannot be used to alter or establish court orders. If and when the test results are accepted as legal it could cause a huge change in child advocacy and support. Women could file for child support or pregnancy support during the pregnancy. As the laws currently stand, women are responsible for the cost of pregnancy – even if the paternity is not in question. Support is not due until the infant is born.