5 Things You Need to Know About Prenatal Paternity Testing

Prenatal paternity testing is a type of DNA testing that allows you to find out whether a man is the father of your baby before the baby has been born. 

Non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) testing is increasing in popularity among couples who want to know the truth about who their child’s father is before the birth. 

However, there is still a lot that people don’t understand about prenatal paternity testing. 

Here are five things you need to know about prenatal paternity testing before you order a test. 

How a prenatal paternity test works

Non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test can be performed as early as seven weeks into pregnancy, or five weeks since the mother’s last period.

For this type of test, a blood sample is needed from the mother, along with cheek (buccal) swabs from both the mother and potential father. 

The baby’s DNA is passed into the mother’s bloodstream via the placenta during pregnancy. The very latest scientific techniques are then used to analyze the baby’s DNA and compare DNA markers to that of the parents. 

By examining the parents’ DNA together with the baby’s DNA, it is possible for a DNA testing laboratory to identify DNA that has been inherited from the biological father of the child.

Paternity Prenatal testing methods illustrations

If the man is the biological father, the man and baby will share DNA markers. If the man is not the biological father, the man and baby will not share enough DNA markers to indicate a biological relationship. 

A non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test is 100% safe for mom and baby 

The safest and most reliable form of prenatal paternity testing is a non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test. 

Unlike other tests that require cells to be taken from the placenta (chorionic villus sampling or CVS test) or a sample of amniotic fluid (amniocentesis), a NIPP test only requires a blood sample from mom and cheek (buccal) DNA swabs from the mother and potential father. 

Therefore, a non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test such as the prenatal paternity testing by AlphaBiolabs is 100% risk-free for mom and baby. 

When testing mom, a blood sample will need to be collected by a trained medical professional such as a phlebotomist, a nurse, or another medical practitioner. 

The blood sample then needs to be sent promptly to your chosen testing laboratory to be analyzed. This is to avoid the degradation of the sample which can render a blood sample unusable. 

The cheek (buccal) swabs can be collected by mom at a convenient time, and simply requires a swab to be rubbed quickly and painlessly on the inside of the cheek to collect DNA. 

Cheek swabs are also required to collect the potential father’s DNA for testing. 

Samples from the mom and the potential father do not need to be collected at the same location however reputable testing laboratories will advise that the samples should be collected around the same time. 

This helps avoid any delays in getting the samples to the laboratory and lowers the risk of mom’s blood sample degrading. 

Advances in medical science make non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) testing possible 

Once the mother’s and potential father’s samples have been received by your chosen testing laboratory, DNA is extracted from both parents’ samples. 

The very latest scientific techniques are used to identify the baby’s DNA within the mom’s blood sample. 

Short tandem repeats (STRs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are used to perform non-invasive prenatal paternity testing. These genetic markers in each DNA profile can then be analyzed by expert geneticists.

Every person inherits half of their DNA from their mother and half from their father. This means that the fetus will have two copies of each STR marker, known as alleles, in their DNA profile – one from each of the biological parents. 

By comparing the alleles at each marker with the DNA collected from mom and the potential father, geneticists can determine whether the man is the biological father of the baby; provided there is sufficient fetal DNA within the blood sample.

Invasive forms of prenatal paternity testing carry a small risk of miscarriage 

If you decide not to choose the non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test, there are other options available for confirming your child’s paternity. 

However, it’s important to note that these options carry a small risk of miscarriage and use invasive techniques to gather DNA samples for testing.  

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) test

A CVS test can be performed as early as 10 weeks into pregnancy. For this test, a small sample of cells is taken from the placenta and tested against cheek swabs from both the mother and the potential father. 

The cells are obtained from the placenta by using a needle inserted into the uterus or guiding a thin tube through the cervix to remove a sample of chorionic villus cells. 

This type of test poses a 1% risk of miscarriage. For around 5% of patients, this type of test isn’t possible, making the non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test a good option. 

Amniocentesis 

An amniocentesis test can be performed between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. It’s mostly used to detect chromosome abnormalities or genetic disorders in an unborn fetus.

For an amniocentesis paternity test, a long, thin needle is inserted into the abdomen to extract amniotic fluid from the uterus. This fluid can be used to retrieve fetal DNA, which is compared to the cheek swab DNA collected from the mother and potential father. 

This type of test poses a 0.5% risk of miscarriage. 

A non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test is extremely accurate  

A non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test provides an extremely accurate, reliable and 100% safe way of finding out who an unborn baby’s father is. 

However, the scientific limitations of a non-invasive prenatal paternity test mean that for a very small number of people it’s not possible to retrieve enough fetal DNA to perform a conclusive test. 

Your chosen testing laboratory will be able to advise you of the next steps if you’re one of the small numbers of mothers whose blood sample does not carry enough fetal DNA for a conclusive result.

Summary 

Peace of mind non-invasive prenatal paternity (NIPP) test is a great option for people who want to find out who their baby’s father is before the baby is born. 

Knowing early on whether the man is the father of the baby can help you make important decisions about the pregnancy. 

Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to talk to your partner about your reasons for wanting a prenatal paternity test and consider what it will mean for your family if your partner is found not to be the biological father of your baby.

Author

Casey Randall, Head of DNA and Covid at AlphaBiolabs 

Casey joined the AlphaBiolabs team in 2012 and heads up both the DNA and Covid-19 testing teams. An expert in DNA analysis and a member of the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG), Casey holds an MSc with Distinction in DNA Profiling and a First-Class BSc with Honours in Forensic Science.

Mehedi Hasan

Mehedi Hasan is an enthusiastic health blogger and the founder member of WOMS. He likes to share his thoughts to make people inspired about their fitness. He is an experienced writer and author on highly authoritative health blogs.

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