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Risks and Benefits of DNA Testing During Pregnancy

May 23, 2014 | Prenatal DNA testing

DNA or Prenatal testing during pregnancyPrenatal paternity testing can help a woman establish the knowledge of the actual biological father of a child before a baby is born.
It’s critical for a woman to establish good peace of mind. Being unsure of a child’s biological father can make life very stressful. Knowing the biological father can help determine the ongoing care and financial support of the child. Once the woman knows the true biological father of her child, many other decisions can be made around the welfare of that child.
People involved like to know whether there are risks involved to any decision.
Let’s discuss the risks first, because the time spent will be short. In fact, nearly all reports conclude that non-invasive DNA testing during pregnancy involves no known physical or medical risks. Neither the baby nor the mother is placed at any risk during the process. DNA testing itself is not a medical procedure and only requires collecting blood from the mother and alleged father.  In contrast, medical procedures like amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling involve insertion of a needle into the women’s abdomen or other invasive procedures, and both carry greater risk of harm the mother and baby.
Okay, now that risk has been addressed, let’s look at the benefits of DNA testing during pregnancy.
Benefit:  Establishes Paternity
DNA testing has a very high degree of accuracy – up to 99.9999%. As far as the legal system is concerned, if a certified DNA test shows paternity in a certain individual, that is in fact accepted as truth. At a personal level, the tested person would certainly show as being the biological father of the child.
Benefit: Peace of Mind
Peace of mind is important to a pregnant woman. Any added stress during during pregnancy can be harmful to a woman and the baby. Knowing that the test itself is reliable, non-invasive, and fairly easy to do can do wonders to ease the stress beforehand.
Benefit:  It’s Completely Safe
With non-invasive prenatal paternity testing (NIPP), a blood sample from the mother and alleged father is all that’s needed to perform the test. Other methods of paternity testing, like amniocentesis, simply aren’t as safe to the mother-to-be. In this procedure, a doctor guides a very thin needle through the abdomen and into the uterus. This carries with it a risk of causing a miscarriage. Some women also experience side effects like cramping and vaginal bleeding.
Like amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling (CVS) in connection with DNA testing carries with it a slight risk of miscarriage.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, there is about a 1% chance a miscarriage could occur using this DNA paternity testing procedure.
Benefit: DNA Non-Invasive Blood Testing Costs Less
DNA testing during pregnancy (or any other time for that matter) can cost upward or $1,500 or more. A DNA test using amniocentesis or CVS sampling can cost $400-$600 in paternity testing fees, but amniocentesis sample collection fees can cost $1,000 – $2,500, and possibly more—in addition to the paternity test.
Benefit:  You Can Do DNA Testing Early in Pregnancy
Women should know that DNA testing during pregnancy can be done in the first trimester. The process is state-of-the-art, combining the latest in DNA SNP microarray technology and, often, proprietary methods of preserving and analyzing a baby’s DNA found naturally in the mother’s bloodstream. CVS and amniocentesis can be performed around the end-of-first-trimester mark.
How Does Paternity Testing Work with the Law?
As long as the DNA sample is collected using the Chain of Custody process, results are definitive and legally establish paternity. A DNA sample cannot be collected from a presumed father without his knowledge in order to have the results accepted in court. In cases where you are trying to establish child support, the court can legally compel the father to submit to paternity testing.  Or, he can submit to the test and pay for it voluntarily. Because DNA testing is so accurate, it carries a high degree of authority in child support cases.
Can a Paternity Test Remove Parental Responsibility from the Father?
Imagine that a woman is in a forthcoming divorce situation because of a situation where the father has been accused of infidelity and is the presumed father of a pending child. If a paternity test reveals the husband is not the father, does he have responsibility for paying child support?
The answer really depends on the state in which the participants live, so no definitive answers can be provided. In some states, if genetic testing shows the presumed father is not the biological father, then he is not responsible for child support.
In others, if the father acknowledges paternity in writing, openly acts as the father, or if the child is born within 300 days after termination of the marriage, he can still be held responsible for child support even if he is not the biological father. This is very dependent on the state and the interpretation of its law as it applies to the unique circumstances. That’s an important consideration to know, and don’t assume that a paternity test legally establishes who bears financial responsibility for a child. Look into it.

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