A DNA paternity test could be ordered for legal or personal reasons, but can you do a DNA paternity test while pregnant? Common situations necessitating a DNA paternity test include a health screening to check for genetic conditions, the resolution of a child custody hearing, or a case involving a large inheritance. Sometimes, parents may need to confirm the identity of the father before the baby has been born.
If you require a prepartum paternity test, there are several options available to you, beginning as early as 9 weeks into the pregnancy. Thanks to advancements in modern technology, DNA paternity testing comes with very few risks to the mother or child, though some methods are riskier than others.
How Does DNA Paternity Testing Work?
A DNA paternity test works by comparing DNA samples from the potential father and child. Normally, it is sufficient to compare blood or saliva samples from both people to determine paternity. Today, these tests are generally accepted as accurate 99.99% of the time and admissible in court. However, in some states, at-home paternity tests are not admissible.
Why get a DNA Paternity Test?
DNA paternity tests have many potential uses, some of which do not involve legal conflict. For instance, parents may want to have a full medical history of the baby by confirming its lineage. A father may want to prove that a child is his. Some legal benefits, such as inheritances and social security payouts, may require a paternity test to be finalized.
Of course, paternity tests may also be ordered by law. In a case of child custody, a paternity test can have lasting implications for the child’s future, including who takes care of them and who is obligated to pay for their care.
In these cases, a prenatal paternity test may become legally and personally necessary to plan for the baby’s and parents’ futures.
Types of Prenatal DNA Paternity Tests
If a DNA paternity test is required before the baby has been born, the easiest and most commonly used method is called a noninvasive prenatal paternity test or NIPP. This test is accurate up to 99.99% of the time and only requires an analysis of the mother’s and father’s blood to test for paternity.
After the 8th week of pregnancy, fetal cells mingle with the mother’s blood, allowing doctors to secure a sample of the baby’s DNA without intruding on the womb. A genetic profile can test these cells in the mother’s blood against the father’s to determine paternity.
From 10-13 weeks into the pregnancy, doctors can perform a chorionic villus sampling or CVS to determine paternity. This test requires a needle to be inserted through the cervix guided by ultrasound to collect uterine tissues known as chorionic villi. These samples can be compared to a potential father’s DNA sample because they contain the genetic makeup of the baby. These tests are accurate within a margin of 99%. However, they result in a miscarriage around 1% of the time.
Finally, amniocentesis can be performed between 14 and 20 weeks of the pregnancy to test for paternity. For this test, a long needle is inserted through the mother’s abdomen to collect amniotic fluid from her uterus. This fluid contains the baby’s DNA and can be compared to the potential father’s.
Like CVS, amniocentesis is around 99% accurate but also carries a risk of miscarriage. This procedure can also cause side effects like cramping and vaginal bleeding.
Why Order Invasive Testing?
With the risks involved, you may wonder why doctors still offer invasive testing methods. The non-invasive test is now used almost exclusively in cases where the sole goal is to determine paternity. However, the other methods produce more information, which parents may need to make other decisions.
For example, invasive sampling methods can be used to determine aspects of a child’s health status, such as a diagnosis of genetic disorders. Selective termination or abortion of fetuses that have been diagnosed with such disorders can result from the information gathered from an invasive test.
In most cases, doctors will not order an invasive test solely for paternity confirmation, since the non-invasive method is accurate and safe.
The Takeaway for Can You Do a DNA Paternity Test While Pregnant?
DNA paternity testing can have lasting implications on the upbringing of a child by changing its legal status, its inheritance, which parent has custody, and more. This makes early testing essential for many parents. As early as 8 weeks into the pregnancy, doctors can test for paternity using the methods described above to resolve issues of paternity before the baby is born.
Speedy Sticks is a mobile concierge phlebotomy service that provides at-home blood draws and on-site diagnostic/health screenings for businesses and individuals. One of these tests is a DNA paternity test which can be performed by one of our specialists. Book an appointment today.
*This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace consulting with a healthcare professional. Please consult with your primary care physician or healthcare provider before engaging in any services offered by Speedy Sticks.
**These are approximations, and experts disagree on some values. Consult your healthcare provider for recommendations suitable for you. It is also important to ensure the levels are given in the same measurements, such as mg/dL, etc.