What Is Prenatal Paternity Testing?

Paternity testing is something many mothers and alleged fathers want to have done to confirm who the biological parents are. There are many reasons for this including child support issues, parental rights issues, and emotional bonding issues to name a few. Most often parents will wait until the child is born to have a paternity test done as it is a simple process involving a buccal mouth swab to collect cheek cell DNA and is quite gentle on the baby.

There are some times, however, that a mother needs to have the information before the baby is born. Often this is done to help decide whether or not to keep the child or whether to consider other options like adoption or abortion and start taking steps in those directions. The uncertainty of not knowing who the father is can also cause a lot of stress to the mother, which is quite unhealthy for the baby.

A prenatal paternity test is a paternity test that is done before the baby is born. It can be done as early as 8 weeks into the pregnancy. Previous methods of doing prenatal paternity testing involved either amniocentesis, which uses a needle to extract amniotic fluid or chorionic villus sampling that involves removing chorionic villi cells from the placenta at the point where it attaches to the uterine wall. This is achieved by either using a needle or a catheter to suction the cells. The possibility of inducing a miscarriage in either of these processes makes these methods quite risky and only something to be done to detect chromosome abnormalities and genetic disorders and not for simply determining paternity.

Non-invasive prenatal paternity testing, however, only involves drawing blood from the mother who must be at least 8 weeks pregnant. The test analyzes free-floating fetal DNA from the mother’s plasma and compares it to the mother’s own DNA profile. The father in question also submits a buccal mouth swab and then the lab can determine from the genetic markers if the alleged father being tested is the biological father of the unborn child. There is no middle ground with the results. They will either be 0% if he is not the father and 99.99% if he is the father. Most testing results can be determined in about a week after samples have been submitted. This method is safe to the baby and safe to the mother as well. Prenatal paternity tests costs hundreds more than a post birth paternity test. They can range between $1500 to $2000 so these are only done if the information is vital to know right away.

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