A pregnancy DNA test can determine who the father of the unborn baby is. The test can only be conducted after a number of weeks of pregnancy so if a pregnancy test has just confirmed you are pregnant (by detecting the presence of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin, HCG) you have enough time to decide.

Besides considering the test during pregnancy, you should consider the post natal paternity test– in this latter case, the test is done after the birth of the child but can be done as early as the moment of birth. Of course, this option might not be a viable option for some.

Pregnancy DNA test: How is the sample Collected?

The baby DNA can be extracted in a number of way- 3 in fact. The methods for prenatal paternity testing can either be invasive or non invasive – these two terms indicate whether the test carries risks for the mother and the child she is carrying or if it is risk free. Amongst the invasive sampling methods used are Chorionic Villus sampling and amniocentesis. Both these enable collection of fetal DNA by entering the womb- in the former case, a catheter is used which is inserted through the vagina and into the womb to collect the chorionic villi. In the case of an amnio, as it is sometimes abbreviated, a needle is inserted through the abdomen and guided by an ultrasound; the OBGYN will then withdraw an amount of amniotic fluid.

Should I do a Non Invasive Pregnancy DNA Test?

The answer would be Yes. This because both CVS and Amniocentesis have some disadvantages to them:

• Both amniocentesis and CVS are not entirely safe or risk free- imagine the needle comes into contact with the babe? Its arms and legs might be damaged! If too much stress is caused, the baby might even be miscarried- it must be said, that nowadays chances of these are very small- but speak to your GP about the risks.

• You need the assistance of an OBGYN- these tests are medical investigations. They are however, very important to ensure healthy fetal development.

A non invasive test has no risks because all it necessitates is blood. Yes, you as the expectant mother can go to a nurse and ask him or to withdraw a vial of blood for you. You can then send this off for laboratory analysis. From the sample of the mother, the Fetal DNA fragments can isolated and scientists can map the genetic loci of the unborn baby. A Non invasive pregnancy DNA test should be an option well worth considering.

The NHS is trying to develop a scheme whereby expectant mother’s get tested for fetal health by taking blood samples and hence, doing away with the need to undergo invasive tests that pose risks for the baby.

Paternity testing after Birth

Testing during pregnancy is indeed costly which ever type of test you opt for: amniocentesis, CVS or non invasive prenatal test. You of course have the option of carrying out the test after the baby is born. Paternity testing after the birth of the baby is far easier as sampling can be done using oral swabs rubbed inside the mouth of the baby for 10 seconds- a procedure which is totally safe and painless.

There of of course, scenarios where prenatal testing for paternity is a must and waiting till the birth of the baby is not an option. In this case, non invasive testing would be the better (and safer) option.