New Test ID’s Baby’s Dad Before Birth

A quick and safe paternity test kit soon will be available during pregnancy. The simple blood test can be done as early as eight weeks, which means that you can ID the father well within the first trimester. Like anything involving parenting, though, a little information can bring big change.

The new test is the first reliable prenatal option. Until now, the only way to establish paternity during pregnancy was with amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, tests usually reserved for detecting Down Syndrome and other serious problems. They are complex and can trigger a miscarriage so aren’t used for paternity testing alone. The new blood test eliminates risk to the fetus and doesn’t even need to involve a doctor’s office.

How accurate is the new test? Conventional paternity tests performed after birth can be certified as legally admissible in court if procedures meet certain guidelines. While the new blood test is still undergoing trials and limited sales, scientists point out that we have the technology to make it a success. In fact, at least two companies are marketing products. The well-established DNA Diagnostics Center markets a $1,775 test from prenatal testing pioneer Natera. Maryland-based Ravgen has begun selling its own test for $950-$1,650. This isn’t cheap to pay out of pocket, but it could be a small price to know for sure who your baby’s father is – or whether you’re the father.

The social implications could be significant. A woman potentially could use the paternity results as a reason to either terminate or continue with her pregnancy. Expect both sides of the abortion debate to loudly weigh in when the new test becomes widely available.

Then there are the men, some unsuspecting, who get the news. These days, many people have multiple partners. If the woman isn’t sure who the father is and wants the paternity test, she needs to provide her own blood sample and a sample from at least one potential father. The man has to agree to give the sample and thus must be told that he could be the father. The “you might or might not be” conversation is often awkward at best.

What are some other implications of the new paternity test? We’ll continue our look tomorrow.

Provided in part by: Paternity test in UK

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