Women's Healthcare Topics

Paternity DNA Testing

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Who is the Father of My Baby?

Who is the father of my baby is an uncomfortable question that is often asked by pregnant mothers who had more than one partner around their fertile time ( fertile time is 4 days before and 1 day after ovulation).

In my office the question “who is the father of my baby” was never directly approached. The conversation would always start out with, doctor what is my conception date? Followed by, no that is wrong.

Eventually the truth would always come out, doctor “I am embarrassed to admit, but I was with two men around the time of ovulation and I am just trying to figure out, who is the father”.

When can I do paternity testing?

Now with the new paternity testing on blood samples the answer to the above question is easily obtained by the eighth or ninth week of pregnancy. Previously the testing required an invasive procedure that had a two percent chance of causing a miscarriage and you had to wait until after the twelfth week of pregnancy for it to be performed.

The benefits of the new paternity testing are numerous. First, you find out who the father is four weeks earlier than with the older invasive testing. This has the benefit of relieving anxiety sooner, notifying the father and starting paternal support and allows you extra time to think about your pregnancy options if the preferred man is not the father. Second, the paternity blood test is non-invasive and does not carry the risk of miscarriage as with the older CVS (Chorionic Villous Sampling) procedure.

How does the new paternity testing work?

Blood samples are taken from the mother and alleged father (s) of the baby. By taking a blood sample from the mother we now are able to isolate fragments of DNA from the baby. The DNA from the baby is compared to the DNA of the alleged father(s).

What is the cost for the paternity test?

The new noninvasive prenatal paternity test costs about $1625. Although expensive, a single mom can use the results to start child support earlier in her pregnancy.

Location of Paternity Testing?

There is a small company in Columbia, MD called Ravgen that charges $950 to $1650 depending on your circumstances. A second company in the Silicon Valley called Natera also offers the testing at a price of $1775.

Controversy surrounds the earlier paternity testing

In general, it will lead to a greater number of abortions if the undesired man is the father. On the other hand, it could prevent abortions if a woman learned they were pregnant after a rape and the rapist was not the father.

It is possible that the test could result in more paternal support court trials. This is a terrible thought, but what if the biological father had no rights but had to send payments to a couple raising his child. Example from Before Birth, Dad’s ID By ANDREW POLLACK “We view our daughter as ours, mine and my husband’s,” Ms. Herndon said. The biological father sends gifts and pays child support.

Summary and Highlights:

Using a blood test you can tell the father of your baby by 8 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Currently, DNA Parentage testing can only legally be used for excluding a man as being the biological father.

  • The blood samples have to be obtained in a strict chain of custody protocol.

  • Blood samples from mother and alleged father are used. If the alleged father is not available, then DNA from alleged father’s parents can be used.

  • Prenatal paternity testing requires informed consent from all involved.

  • Paternity prenatal tests have to be performed at accredited laboratories for the test.

  • The cost for testing is $1650 to $1775.


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