Prenatal paternity testing is used to determine the biological father of a child before birth. It is usually done in situations where the mother has more than one sexual partner around the time of conception and wants to know the father of her child. The mother orders the test for personal, emotional, financial, and legal reasons. An alleged father of an unborn child may demand prenatal paternity testing to make sure that he is the real biological father, especially if he learned that his partner has other sexual partners. A husband who discovered the infidelity of his pregnant wife may demand paternity testing to determine if he is the biological father of the unborn child. These are the common reasons why prenatal paternity testing is performed. But how does prenatal paternity testing is performed?
Prenatal paternal testing involves the use of DNA testing. The DNA of the father is compared to the DNA of the unborn child. The testing laboratory requires DNA samples from the father and the unborn child. DNA sample from the mother is not required. The father will perform a buccal (cheek) swab to collect saliva containing DNA. (He can also submit sample of his semen or blood, as these body fluids also contain DNA) His DNA sample together with the child’s DNA sample will be submitted to a testing laboratory. There are two ways to get DNA sample from the unborn child: chorionic villi sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis.
Chorionic Villi Sampling (CVS)
This procedure can be performed during the 10th to 13th week of pregnancy. The doctor collects a small tissue sample from the placenta, a membrane that partially surrounds the developing fetus. The doctor uses ultrasound to determine the location of the placenta. After locating the placenta, the doctor will then use a catheter through the vagina to gently get a placental sample. The doctor can also collect placental sample transabdominally by inserting a needle through the abdominal wall.
The amniotic fluid (fluid that surrounds the fetus) contains fetal cells that can be used for DNA analysis. To collect fetal cells, the doctor inserts a long needle through the abdominal wall to draw amniotic fluid. An ultrasound will guide the doctor to locate a packet of amniotic fluid that is at safe distance from the fetus. This procedure can be done during the 14th and 24th week of pregnancy.
It is generally not recommended to get prenatal paternal testing just to know the biological father due to the potential risks of CVS and amniocentesis: damage to the fetus or amniotic sac. According to DNA Solutions UK, there is 1% chance of fetal loss on CVS and 0.5% on amniocentesis. The woman may also experience some side effects including bleeding, period-like pain, and abdominal discomfort. DNA testing after child birth is highly recommended by physicians to prevent fetal loss or miscarriage.
Prenatal paternity testing is expensive, more expensive than postnatal (after birth) testing. It may not be covered by medical insurance. According to the American Pregnancy Association, paternity testing typically costs between $250.00 and $2,500.00 depending on the area where the clients live in and the type of paternity testing they choose.
Most paternity testing laboratories report 99.99% accuracy of results. It means that there is only 0.01% chance that another random individual in the same race population could have the same paternity test results. (DNA-Genetic Connections.com). The accuracy of paternity test results depends on how many loci (locations) on the DNA segments of the alleged father and child are tested. It is best to choose laboratories that test at least 13-16 loci in order to obtain greater accuracy.
According to DailyMail UK, “hundreds of British women who had affairs are carrying out paternity tests on their unborn babies and aborting them if they turn out to be their lover’s child.”[ad#afterpost]
- Prenatal DNA Testing – DNA Solutions UK
- Can Paternity Test be Done In Utero Before the Baby is Born – BabyMed
- Paternity Testing – American Pregnancy Association
- Paternity Answers – Prenatal Paternity Tests – GeneSys
- Hundreds of unfaithful women having paternity tests on unborn babies to determine whether to have abortions – DailyMail UK
- The Accuracy of DNA Testing – DNA-GeneticConnections.com