Prenatal DNA Paternity Testing

Paternity testing prior to the birth of a child definitely has some advantages. It allows people to plan ahead and know who will be helping to support the child. Waiting 9 months to find out can be an excruciatingly long time!

However, getting fetal DNA has its drawbacks. There are currently only two methods for retrieving DNA from a fetus prior to birth. One is amniocentesis. The procedure involves inserting a needle into the amniotic sac to withdrawal amniotic fluid. This is a highly invasive procedure that posses a risk to the developing baby, and it is not normally done until at least the 15th week of pregnancy.

The second method involves collecting a blood sample from the mother as early as 8 weeks into the pregnancy. About 10% of the DNA collected from the mother’s blood sample will contain the baby’s DNA, which can be then be compared to the DNA of the alleged father.

Unfortunately, there are shortcomings for both of these collections methods. They involve price and accuracy. Both options are currently very expensive and cannot be used for legal purposes such as child support, name changes on the birth certificate, etc. Testing is getting better, and I have no doubt that one day prenatal testing will be as accurate as the check swab method after birth. However, we are just not there yet.