Seeking to determine paternity during pregnancy is a common circumstance experienced here at the American Pregnancy Association. You are not alone with your questions.
There are varying reasons that individuals look to get a paternity test which include: multiple partners, child support, emotional support or simply peace of mind from knowing for sure.
You can contact the DDC at 1-800-798-0580 to reach a knowledgeable professional who can answer your questions and guide you through the process.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends paternity testing from a testing facility that has been accredited by the AABB such as DNA Diagnostics Center. The AABB Relationship Testing Accreditation Program is based on stringent standards and the laboratory must abide by those standards to remain in good standing.
The cost of paternity testing from an accredited laboratory can range greatly depending on the area in which you live and the type of paternity testing you choose.
Why is establishing Paternity important?
Establishing paternity helps ensure a child’s well being. It also helps protect his or her future rights. Determining a biological relationship is important for several reasons:
- Establish legal and social benefits, including social security, veteran’s, health care and inheritance benefits.
- Provide an accurate medical history, giving the healthcare provider additional insight during diagnosis and in managing the child’s health record.
- Strengthens a bond between biological individuals, such as a father and child.
If you are pregnant, most states have laws that require an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form 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 a DNA paternity test to be done 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 on 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 a paternity test to list a father’s name on the birth certificate if the couple is unmarried. If the mother is married to someone other than the father of the baby, the husband can be presumed to be the father and listed on the birth certificate as the legal father unless otherwise proven by a paternity tests.
If you need to establish paternity or have questions about any of this, please contact the DDC at 1-800-798-0580.
Types of Paternity Testing:
Postnatal testing is done through an umbilical cord blood collection at the time of delivery or a sample collected after the baby comes home from the hospital. A buccal (cheek swab) collection or a blood sample collection can be done.
Prenatal testing; done during the pregnancy and the other methods available through the DDC include:
- Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity (NIPP):Unlike amniocentesis or CVS, a non-invasive prenatal paternity test that does not require invasive methods. A blood sample is collected from the mother and alleged father. The baby’s DNA is found in the mother’s bloodstream. The test is accurate and can provide a definitive result at over 99.99% levels. It is amazing tat paternity can be determined using a small quantity of DNA which can be as little as is found in a single cell.
- 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 9th week depending on the type of test you choose.
How long do results take? Prenatal paternity results typically take from 2 to 5 days to complete, depending on the type of test you choose.
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? There are no risks for the mother or child when a paternity test is performed after birth. There are some risks associated when using invasive methods such as amniocentesis or CVS. These tests are discouraged for establishing paternity because of the increased risks. However, the Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity procedure poses no risks to the mother or her developing baby.
Can an exact date of conception be determined accurately without a paternity test? The assumption is that if a woman has regular menstrual cycle, 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 estimate the gestational age of a baby and determine when the baby was conceived. But these are just tools used to estimate the dates. Ultrasounds can be miscalculated as much as a week 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? The costs of the tests varies. DDC offers flexible payment plans and can discuss your specific needs. Contact DDC at 1-800-798-0580 to discuss you options with a representative.
Can I use the DNA test results in court? Most laboratories offer two types of tests. The testing methiods are typically the same therefore achieving the same results. The difference is due to the collection process and how the samples are securely maintained during the collection, shipping and at the laboratory. Chain of Custody specimens are collected at a hospital or clinic and shipped by the collector directly to the laboratory. The samples maintain a “record” and results can be used as a legally defensible document in court.
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.
The DDC, DNA Diagnostics Center, is the paternity testing organization endorsed by the APA and received this endorsement for their long standing accreditation by the AABB and their quality and service. The APA visits the laboratory annually to inspect procedures and witness their commitment to service first hand.
You can visit DNA Diagnostics Center for more information or call 1-800-798-0580.
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/