Paternity Test In Pregnancy
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|Can I Test For Paternity Before Birth?
Yes, prenatal testing is possible, however the procedure is invasive, costly and not without risks to the baby. Ideally you should wait and carry out a paternity test after pregnancy. A home paternity test kit is the most popular choice for testing after pregnancy and it can be easily purchased online or in most large pharmacies.
There is no home paternity test which can be used in pregnancy. Instead, the test must be carried out by a professional such as an OB/GYN or doctor. The options are: Amniocentesis and Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS). Both of these diagnostic prenatal tests are more commonly used for diagnosing birth defects. The procedures are invasive and do disturb the fetus. For this reason a physician will examine the mother and if he suspects any pregnancy complication, he is likely to recommend waiting until after birth to determine paternity. If you do decide to go ahead with either procedure, you will need to coordinate with a DNA Test Center/Laboratory. The center will want the collected sample from your CVS/amniocentesis while also arranging DNA collection from the alleged father and mother.
Also known as an amniotic fluid test or AFTA, an amniocentesis can be performed as early as weeks 13 or 14 or as late as weeks 23 and 24 of pregnancy. As a prenatal paternity test, it is more popular than a CVS. The procedure takes about 30 minutes and is usually carried out under local anesthetic. A long hollow needle is inserted into the abdominal wall and uterus, and then a small amount of amniotic fluid is drawn from the sac surrounding the fetus. This is the sample you hand to your DNA Test Center for analysis. An amniocentesis is a safe procedure, with the risk of miscarriage about 1 in 200-400. Side effects may include cramping, vaginal bleeding and amniotic fluid leakage. This usually subsides after a few days. The mother and alleged father's DNA can be collected with a simple buccal swab to the cheek (or hair sample) and then compared with the baby's DNA. The results are 99 percent accurate for determining paternity.
A CVS test can be performed in week 10 to 13 of pregnancy. Its main advantage over an amniocentesis is that it can be performed a lot sooner which may be important in a legal paternity suit. With a CVS a sample of cells is taken via the vagina and cervix (transcervical) or via a needle inserted to the abdominal wall (transabdominal CVS) and tested for DNA. The procedure is not particularly comfortable; some women say it feels like a Pap test. A CVS is considered a safe procedure, but the risk of miscarriage is almost twice that of an amniocentesis. Some women experience vaginal bleeding after a CVS, but there is no cause for concern unless a fever is also reported (indicating infection). Again, the baby's DNA is compared to the DNA of the alleged father. The results are also 99 percent accurate for determining paternity.
Typically a CVS, including physician fees can range between $1,400 and $2,000. An amniocentesis typically costs between $1,200 and $2,000. Some insurance cover the costs of a CVS or amniocentesis when used for diagnosing pregnancy concerns - but not necessarily when used for determining paternity. So do check your medical insurance policy carefully for coverage. You will also need to add the fee of the DNA clinic which carries out the test. Those fees can range on average between $400 and $1,000. There is normally a standard fee for a non court-admissible result and a higher fee for a court-admissible result. Results are usually available within 5 working days, but this can be speeded up if you are willing to pay more.
Scientists have known for some time that fetal DNA leaks into the mother's blood through the placenta, usually in the form of fetal cells. Isolating those cells is difficult, but possible. Testing them is more difficult, complicated by the fact that many women still have fetal cells in their blood stream from previous pregnancies (and can do so for up to 20 years). Some clinics are now offering a non-invasive paternity test, based on this science. These tests may be advertised something like: Fetal Cell Non Invasive Prenatal Paternity Tests.
A non-invasive test only requires a blood sample from the mother and a cheek (or saliva) swab from the father. It does not require a CVS or amniocentesis procedure to indicate paternity. The test works by isolating fetal cells which pass into the mothers maternal blood which can then be tested for the baby's DNA and genetic makeup. A first time mother must wait until week 14 of gestation for testing, and repeat mothers can test after week 13 in the second trimester of pregnancy. Results are usually available within 12 to 14 days. The procedure can be expensive, anywhere between $1,000 and $1,500.
NEW! In 2011
In 2011 the DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) launched a non-invasive paternity test based on a woman's blood sample which can be carried out after week 12 of pregnancy. The announcement has stirred some controversy because DDC are leading members of the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) accreditation scheme who do not approve such tests. DDC have requested certification. According to the company their new test uses DNA chips to record 317,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the genome, affording greater accuracy. The main problem with paternity tests during pregnancy is working out which DNA comes from the mother and which from the fetus. This test establishes the SNP of the mother, subtracts the maternal profile and then uses the remaining material for DNA testing. The test costs $1,625.
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