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If you do not wish to wait until after the baby’s birth to know who the father is, then you can have a prenatal test carried out. The type of test can either be invasive and non invasive. These are two key terms that you need to be familiar with if you are thinking of doing a paternity test whilst still pregnant; they will probably be the determining factor which will help you decide which tests to opt for.

Risk free testing in pregnancy

The most recent evolution in the field of test during pregnancy for paternity is non invasive prenatal paternity testing. This type of prenatal tests, unlike the invasive tests that are still commonly carried out, poses no risks for the mother and the unborn baby. Later on in this article, you will get a glimpse into invasive prenatal tests and how these tests can endanger the life of the mother and baby. With non invasive tests, the sample collection is done using just blood samples. Both the mother and the alleged father will need to provide the laboratory with blood samples. Using these maternal blood samples, the scientists can separate and distinguish the baby’s DNA from that of the mother. Once they have the required number of foetal genetic markers from the blood samples, they can go on to conclude whether the alleged father is the biological father of the unborn baby. Results of non invasive prenatal paternity testing is 99.9% accurate and the test is offered starting at 10 weeks following the expectant mother’s last period. For more information about non invasive tests during pregnancy click here.

Invasive tests and the risks

The prenatal test is carried out by an obstetrician or gynaecologist and is a medical intervention/procedure. The pregnant mother will be put under aesthetic. The whole procedure will clearly be carried out in a hospital or clinic and you will not be able to get this paternity test free. The costs can be considerably high, especially when compared to paternity test immediately after the birth of the child which can cost a fraction of the prenatal test.

The two procedures used to collect DNA samples from the unborn baby are the following:

Chorionic Villus Sampling: This procedure is sometimes abbreviated to CVS. It is carried out between weeks 10-12 of pregnancy and involves the withdrawal of amniotic fluid and fetal cells from the mother’s womb. The risks of miscarrying are lower than in amniocentesis. To be able to enter the womb, the surgeon normally enters through the vagina.

Amniocentesis: This is carried out later in the pregnancy- around 15-20 weeks of pregnancy. The dates of either of these tests are never exact and you will find slight variations. This test carries risks as does CVS; the possibility of harming the unborn child being the main one. It can include harm to the limbs or actual infection to the amniotic sac.

Once the DNA sample is obtained from the baby it can be compared with a DNA sample obtained from the father and this would follow the exact same laboratory analysis procedures as with a standard paternity test happening after the child is born (more information here).

Ethical Implication of Prenatal Testing for Paternity

Basically, besides the medical risks, the question arises of what happens if the prenatal test shows results that do not match the desired outcomes? The man a woman hopes is the biological father of her child is showed not to be – Will it lead to an abortion?

Prenatal tests are often done by those who worry about registering the biological father on the birth certificate of the child. By law, in all countries there is a time frame within which one must register a father on the birth certificate of the child. This time frame is more than enough to allow for a paternity test after the birth of the child. However, given the possibility of non invasive tests, anxious mothers and couples can carry out the test early in pregnancy, having their mind at rest that they will encounter no risks and complications.