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Paternity Test While Pregnant: Is it safe? Paternity Test Cost, and more

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DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid, the genetic material of a child is inherited by both the mother and father. The child inherits 50% of the DNA from the mother and 50% from the father. Genetic/ DNA tests or paternity tests can help find the biological father of the child.

Pregnancy and childbirth bring along emotional and joyful experiences for any couple. But, in some cases, determining the biological identity or the father of the child may be a necessity. For couples going through this rough patch, need not wait till the childbirth to check for a paternity check. One can find solutions for the rising questions on paternity even when the baby is in the womb through the Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Test (INVOLVES NO SEX DETERMINATION). 

Paternity tests during pregnancy give the benefit of identifying the biological father of the child. This article explores the options available in paternity tests during pregnancy and informs you how safe these tests are for the child as well as the mother. 

Paternity test during pregnancy: what is it?

DNA Paternity test involves matching the DNA samples from the child and alleged father to confirm or establish a relationship. The paternity test, usually done after childbirth, can be done even while the baby is still in the womb. 

The maternal family does not need to wait for the entire pregnancy term to determine the father of the baby. These tests can safely be undertaken as early as 9 weeks of pregnancy and be assured of their accuracy and precision. 

The paternity test while pregnant uses the amniotic DNA or the foetal DNA from maternal blood to conclude or affirm a relation with the potential or alleged father. The test conclusively proves who the biological father of the child is. Positive test results confirm the relation, while negative test results do not. 

Why are paternity tests during pregnancy done?

If the pregnant mother is unsure who the father of the child is or if the father wants to have a paternity check of the unborn child, paternity tests can be helpful. While determining the biological relationship between the father and the unborn baby, these tests help sort out legal, medical, and psychological relations (NOT SEX DETERMINATION OF THE UNBORN CHILD). 

The paternity determination can help in the following ways in India.

  • Establishing legal and social benefits- inheritance and social security,
  • A proven medical history of the baby underlining the name of the father, 
  • Helps strengthen the father and child relationship or bond,
  • Solving marital, paternity and maternity issues,
  • When resolving legal custodial disputes,
  • Issues relating to property inheritance or will.

Invasive and non-invasive paternity testing

While a lot of options are available for post-pregnancy paternity tests, where even umbilical cord samples can be used to extract foetal DNA, some of the options available for paternity testing during pregnancy include:

Non-invasive prenatal paternity testing (NIPP)

The non-invasive prenatal paternity test, an accurate way to establish paternity while pregnant, can be done anytime after week 8 of pregnancy. This test involves blood samples taken from the alleged father and the mother. The foetal DNA from the maternal blood is extracted to be checked with the father’s DNA. The accuracy of this early first-trimester prenatal paternity test is more than 99%. 

Invasive prenatal paternity testing

Invasive paternity testing is done in either of the two methods.

  1. Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

Done between week 10 to week 13 of pregnancy, this invasive diagnostic test also requires the insertion of a thin needle or tube into the vagina through the cervix to collect the chorionic villi or placental tissues attached to the uterine wall. The Chorionic villi samples will contain the same genetic makeup as the baby growing in the womb. The placental tissue sample is compared to the DNA sample of the alleged father to establish paternity. The accuracy rate of this test is almost 99%. However, the risks associated with this test are about 1%. 

2. Amniocentesis

The amniocentesis is performed between week 14 and week 20 of pregnancy. Typically, invasive diagnostic tests such as CVS and amniocentesis detect genetic disorders, neural tube defects, and chromosomal anomalies in the foetus. However, amniocentesis, similar to CVS, can help extract the foetal DNA and conclude paternity by comparing it with the paternal DNA sample. 

In Amniocentesis, a long needle is inserted transabdominally to remove amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac. The DNA of the foetus extracted from the amniotic fluid is matched with that of the potential father. Though the amniocentesis accuracy rate counts up to 99%, this test carries 1% risks such as,

  • Pregnancy loss,
  • Premature labour, 
  • Water bag breaking, 
  • Infection, 
  • Vaginal bleeding, 
  • Abdominal cramping, 
  • Irritation, 
  • Leaking of the amniotic fluid.

Difference between invasive and non-invasive prenatal paternity testing

Here are some of the differences between the two methods of prenatal paternity testing.

Differences Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing Invasive prenatal testing
Method Involves use of maternal blood  to draw out Foetal DNA.  Uses a needle inserted into the uterine cavity to remove placental tissues or amniotic fluid. 
When to take the test Can be taken anytime after 8 weeks of pregnancy CVS- Done between 10 to 13 weeks of pregnancy

Amniocentesis- between 14 to 20 weeks of pregnancy

Hospitalisation Requires no hospitalisation. Sample may be collected from home as well One or half day hospitalisation may be required
Risks and side effects No side-effects or risks associated Associated with 1% risk of pregnancy complication or termination. 

Is Non-invasive Paternity Test safe?

Non-invasive paternity tests that help determine a relationship between the child and the alleged father are 100% safe with no risks both for the foetus and the mother. Unlike invasive tests like amniocentesis and CVS that involve a certain amount of risks. To further add, this test can be taken as early as week 9 of pregnancy.It is also an accurate test similar to the paternity confirmation after childbirth. 

It is necessary to note that Sex determination in India is a punishable offence and paternity tests are only done to determine a relation between the unborn child and alleged father and does not determine the sex or gender of the foetus. Such practices are strongly opposed in India and subject to serious punishment under law. 

What is the cost of a prenatal paternity test?

Prenatal paternity test cost varies between cities, clinics, and laboratories. Non-invasive paternity tests during pregnancy cost more compared to non-invasive paternity tests. The approximate cost of paternity test during pregnancy is as below. 

Type of the test DNA paternity test- Approx starting price
Non-invasive DNA Paternity Test During Pregnancy or Prenatal DNA Paternity Test ₹90,000 onwards

Frequently asked questions

1. What are the samples considered for paternity tests during pregnancy?

For a non-invasive paternity test during pregnancy, the maternal blood and the father’s cheek swab are taken. While for invasive tests, a chorionic villi sample or amniotic fluid sample and the father’s cheek swab are considered.

2. How accurate are the paternity tests during pregnancy?

Both invasive and non-invasive prenatal paternity tests are safe, with an accuracy rate above 99%. However, invasive tests carry a certain amount of risk of preterm labour or other pregnancy complications. 

3. What is the result turnover time for the prenatal paternity test?

 The prenatal paternity test turnover time is quick; the test results may be available within 15 days of sample collection.

Conclusion

Paternity tests involve comparing the father’s DNA with the child’s DNA to determine the father and child relation. Paternity tests are done before pregnancy and can be invasive prenatal paternity tests or non-invasive. Non-invasive ones are safer and preferred because of their less likelihood of causing risks during pregnancy. However, the DNA test costs are generally at a higher-end, due to sensitivity and elaborate DNA extraction procedures. 

Pooja N Swamy (M.Sc Biomedical Sciences)
Pooja Holds Master's Degree in Biomedical Sciences from Vellore Institute of Technology. She believes in strong research and clear understanding over the subject. Always determined and focussed with a thirst to learn new things. Hardworking, flexible and grounded to align with the goals.

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