Paternity Testing

Man and pregnant woman taking a paternity test

Questions regarding paternity during pregnancy are more common than you think. Seeking answers and resolving your concerns has physical, emotional and financial benefits for both you and your unborn child. The American Pregnancy Association recommends paternity testing from a laboratory accredited by the AABB. The AABB Relationship Testing Accreditation Program is based on standards for the performance of tests and require laboratories to achieve quality performance.

The American Pregnancy Association endorses DDC, DNA Diagnostics Center because of their long-standing accreditation by the AABB and their commitment to quality and service. You can contact DDC at 1-800-798-0580 and discuss your options with a paternity professional. They can answer your questions and guide you through the process.

Why is establishing Paternity important?

Establishing paternity is important to ensure a child’s well being. It can also help protect his or her future. Determining a biological relationship is important for several reasons:

  • To establish  legal and social benefits, including social security, veteran’s, and inheritance benefits.
  • Provides an accurate medical history for the child, giving the healthcare provider additional insight during diagnosis and in managing the child’s health.
  • Strengthens the bond between biological individuals, such as father and child.

If you are pregnant, most states have laws that require an Acknowledgment of Paternity form to be completed at the hospital to legally establish who the father is. After the AOP is signed, couples have a limited amount of time, depending on the state, to request DNA paternity test and amend the AOP. This form is filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics and is a legally binding document. If the time allowed for amending this form expires, the father listed as the AOP and birth certificate could be held legally responsible for the child, even if he later proves he is not the biological father.

Some states require an unmarried couple to have a paternity test to list a father’s name on the birth certificate. If the mother is married to someone other than the father of the child, the husband can be presumed to be the father and listed on the birth certificate as the legal father, unless otherwise disputed by a paternity test. If you need a paternity test to ensure the right man is named as the father, call DNA Diagnostics Center at 1-800-798-0580.

Types of Paternity Testing:

Postnatal testing, after a child’s birth, is done through an umbilical cord collection at the time of delivery or a sample collected at a lab after the baby is released from the hospital. Either a buccal (cheek swab) or a blood collection can be performed. If you need to establish paternity or have questions, please contact the DDC at 1-800-798-0580. For prenatal testing, or testing done during pregnancy, there are several options to choose from:

  • Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity (NIPP): A non-invasive prenatal paternity test is the most accurate non-invasive way to establish paternity before the baby is born. The process is state-of-the-art, combining the latest technology and proprietary methods of preserving and analyzing the baby’s DNA found naturally in the mother’s bloodstream. This test requires only a simple blood collection from the mother and alleged father and can be performed any time after the 8th week of pregnancy. The test is 99.9% accurate.
  • Amniocentesis: This test is performed in the second trimester, anywhere from the 14th-20th weeks of pregnancy. During this procedure, the doctor uses ultrasound to guide a thin needle into your uterus, through your abdomen. The needle draws out a small amount of amniotic fluid, which is tested. Risks include a small chance of harming the baby and miscarriage. Other side effects may include cramping, leaking of amniotic fluid, and vaginal bleeding. A doctor’s consent is needed to do this procedure for paternity testing.
  • Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS): This test consists of a thin needle or tube which a doctor inserts from the vagina, through the cervix, guided by an ultrasound, to obtain chorionic villi. Chorionic villi are little finger-like pieces of tissue attached to the wall of the uterus. The chorionic villi and the fetus come from the same fertilized egg, and have the same genetic makeup. This testing can be done earlier in pregnancy from the 10th-13th weeks. A doctor’s consent is needed to do this procedure for paternity testing.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Paternity Testing:

How soon can we start the testing process?

DNA testing can be done as early as the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, starting in the 10th week by the CVS procedure or week 9 with the SNP microarray procedure.

Are test results kept completely confidential?

It is a rule of most DNA laboratories to keep your results completely confidential. Speak with each laboratory individually on their policies concerning confidentiality.

What risk does DNA testing pose to the mother and the developing baby?

Testing conducted after a baby’s birth involves no known risks. Historically, prenatal DNA testing done in conjunction with other prenatal testing involves some risk associated with how the testing is conducted, whether amniocentesis or CVS. These tests are often discouraged for the sole reason of seeking paternity because of the increased miscarriage risks. However, the non-invasive SNP microarray procedure poses little risk to mom or the baby.

Can an exact date of conception be determined accurately without a paternity test?

Many women have questions about the date of possible conception, and unfortunately figuring this out is not always so easy. The assumption is that if a woman has pretty regular menstrual cycles, then she will be ovulating during a certain time of the month. Ovulation is the time when conception can take place because that is when an egg is made available. The problem is that most women do not ovulate on an exact date each month, and many women have a different ovulation day from month to month.

If you also take into account that sperm can live in the body 3-5 days after intercourse has taken place, this can make figuring out conception very difficult. Most doctors use the first day of the last period (LMP) and ultrasound measurements to gage the gestational age of a baby and determine when the baby was conceived. But these are just tools used to estimate the dates—it is very hard to tell what the exact date of conception really is. Most people do not realize that ultrasounds can be off up to 5-7 days in early pregnancy and up to a couple weeks off if the first ultrasounds are done farther into the second trimester or beyond.

Due dates are not an accurate tool for determining conception since they also are only an estimation date (only 5% of women give birth on their due dates). If you are seeking the estimated date of conception for paternity reasons, and intercourse with two different partners took place within 10 days of each other, we strongly encourage that paternity testing be done; this testing can be done during pregnancy or after the baby is born. This is the only way to accurately know who the father is.

How much does it cost to establish paternity?

Costs will vary dependent on which types of procedures are performed. Prices can range from $400.00 to $2,000.00. Prenatal testing is often more costly than testing done after a baby is born because of the additional doctor and hospital-related fees. Some testing sites offer lower cost testing that is non-court-approved, or “curiosity testing.” Most centers offer payment plans and will require full payment before they release the results to you. The new SNP microarray procedure will cost approximately $1,600. You can reach the DNA Diagnostics Center at 1-800-798-0580 to discuss any of the options and find more specific costs.

Can I use the DNA test results in court?

Many centers now offer court-approved tests, but also lower cost “curiosity testing.” If you aren’t sure if you will need the results for a court case, it is probably worth the extra cost to go ahead and have a court-approved test done.

Who do I call for Paternity Testing?

There are a number of DNA and paternity testing facilities around the country. You want to make sure you use a facility accredited by the AABB. You may be interested in comparing different testing facilities. DNA Diagnostics Center is the official paternity testing organization of the American Pregnancy Association. They are actively involved with the AABB and receive APA’s endorsement for their quality services. You can visit DNA Diagnostics Center for more information or call 1-800-798-0580.

Last Updated: 2/2014

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Office of Attorney General of Texas, http://www.oag.state.tx.us/index.shtml

DNA Diagnostics Center, http://www.dnacenter.com/