Paternity can be an important and pressing question for parents, both for emotional and legal reasons. For many years, parents seeking answers either needed to wait until the baby was born, or use invasive and potentially dangerous procedures. Now, however, a new technique has been developed that allows a paternity test to be completed before the birth of the child, using only a blood sample from the mother.
The technology works by searching for minute amounts of the baby's DNA that naturally flows in the mother's blood. Previous attempts to test paternity in this way were foiled by contamination from the mother's DNA, which made it impossible to locate the baby's genetic material. Now, however, scientists are able to isolate the baby's DNA in a blood sample, allowing them to test for paternity.
The process can be done as soon as the eighth week of pregnancy, earlier than other procedures. As it only requires a blood sample, the procedure is safer and less invasive than other options.
Unfortunately, it may be some time before the new procedure becomes widely available. The technology is still in its early stages of commercial development, and it can only be found in a few small markets. It is also fairly expensive, costing approximately $1,250 to $1,650. Still, its developers believe that the demand for the procedure is strong; this could lead to a more widespread availability in Illinois in the future.
Paternity tests are a fairly common weapon for family law attorneys seeking to resolve a dispute over legal parentage. If a man believes that he is not the father of his partner's child, a negative test could free him from all parental responsibilities. Likewise, if a father believes that a child may be his, a test could establish legal paternity. In this case, a positive test would help to give the father parental rights, allowing him to become involved in his child's life.
Source: Columbia Daily Tribune, "Lab works with cutting-edge paternity test," Jacob Barker, Dec. 4, 2012