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New paternity test can ID father within 8 weeks of a pregnancy

Some Missouri residents might be interested to learn of a new test that allows an expectant mother to learn the identity of the father of her baby within the first eight weeks of her pregnancy. This new testing technology is the first of its kind non-invasive blood test that allows paternity to be established so early in a pregnancy. According to reports, more than half of all births are to unmarried women under the age of 30.

When a child is born to unmarried parents, establishing paternity as early as possible is imperative for a father to begin to establish his parental rights. In some states, including Missouri, a father only has a few weeks after the birth of his child to establish paternity rights, so this new test offers additional benefits for both the mother and the father to establish parental rights and child support obligations if they are unmarried.

Prior to this new testing technique, amniocentesis was used to determine paternity during a pregnancy but it is an invasive procedure and thus carries some risk, mainly inducing a miscarriage. For this reason the test is not generally used for establishing paternity. The new test uses a blood sample from both the mother and father and does not require a doctor to be present.

Non-invasive tests have been offered over the Internet for almost a decade now, however the reliability of such tests has been questionable. Experts are saying this new testing technique provides much more reliable results. The test analyzes DNA taken from the mother's blood that contains tiny amounts of DNA present in the fetus. The test can also be used to determine if the child has Down syndrome as well as map the fetus's entire genome makeup.

There are currently a few companies marketing tests using this technology however, the costs are considerably higher than post-pregnancy paternity tests. Additionally, these tests have not yet received certification for accuracy, which is required in child custody cases, although one company has applied for this certification. The AABB, formerly called the American Association of Blood Banks, is seriously considering whether or not it should certify prenatal tests.

Yet other experts are advising caution because data published by one company in a peer-reviewed journal contained only 30 samples. The test did however correctly identify the father from a random sample in all 30 samples. The other company has yet to publish any clinical data on its test so more research is needed to firmly establish the reliability of this new paternity testing technology.

Source: The New York Times, "Before Birth, Dad's ID," Andrew Pollack, June 19, 2012

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