There are two options available for those who want or are required to undergo a paternity test while pregnant. Amniocentesis, an exam that is typically performed during the second trimester to screen for fetal chromosomal abnormalities and infections, can be used to determine paternity. Chorionic villus sampling is another prenatal test that is commonly performed to detect genetic disorders but that can also be a paternity test. Unlike amniocentesis, it can be completed at an earlier stage of the pregnancy.
Amniocentesis, or the amniotic fluid test, is performed during the second trimester between weeks 14 and 20. This test is used to detect chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome in babies or to make sure that the lungs are mature enough for the child to breathe unassisted after birth. A small amount of amniotic fluid is extracted via needle from the sac that envelops the fetus. The fluid is then examined for signs of infection or genetic abnormalities.
The fluid that is extracted during amniocentesis can be used to determine paternity. The potential father provides a sample of his own DNA that is then compared to the DNA from the baby’s amniotic fluid. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, contains a person’s genetic makeup. The results of this type of paternity test are 99 percent accurate.
Like amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling is performed to screen a fetus for genetic and chromosomal disorders, including Tay Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis. A sample of chorionic villi is taken from the placenta during this procedure via a thin needle or tube inserted into the vagina to the cervix. These villi are tiny projections that form the placenta and contain information about the baby’s DNA.
Chorionic villus sampling is typically done between weeks 10 and 12 of pregnancy. The chorionic villi provide fetal DNA that can be compared to the potential father’s DNA sample. The results of taking this type of paternity test while pregnant are also 99 percent accurate.
Taking a paternity test while pregnant is often not covered by medical insurance, and the cost of either of these two exams can vary significantly. Most paternity testing is done after childbirth, but in some cases it may be both necessary and beneficial to undergo a paternity test while pregnant. The results can be helpful in securing financial support or resolving paternity disputes prior to delivery.
Taking a paternity test while pregnant poses some risk to the mother and fetus, including miscarriage, cramps, and loss or leaking of amniotic fluid. As a result, a doctor’s consent is required before a mother can undergo either amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling for the purposes of determining paternity. Paternity testing done after birth does not involve any known risks to the child.