Invasive and non-invasive prenatal paternity testing enables one to determine paternity before the birth of a child. In some countries, getting the test done is easy, but in other countries such as the UK getting a prenatal test done for paternity testing is more complex due to ethical issues cited in The Human Tissues Act of 2004.

Prenatal paternity testing is done through DNA sampling procedures that are either invasive or non-invasive. While invasive procedures include measures including open surgery, they carry a higher risk to both mother and the unborn child. As such invasive procedures are carried out in diagnostic testing to reveal any chromosomal abnormalities or hereditary illnesses in an unborn baby. These can include:

  • Anencephaly
  • Rare, inherited metabolic disorders
  • Spina bifida

In contrast, a non-invasive procedure involves testing such as blood tests or saliva testing obtained with an oral swab or similar tool. A non-invasive procedure is often used in prenatal paternity testing due to no risk to the mother or unborn child.

Another option besides paternity testing while pregnant is to wait for the birth of the child- a paternity test can be carried out at the moment of birth with a DNA sample taken using an oral swab. Post natal paternity testing is far quicker and easier than testing during pregnancy. There are no risks involved whatsoever and the costs are far lower.

Non invasive prenatal paternity testing is becoming the norm with prenatal DNA tests. There is still much research that needs to be done in the field but in the not too distant future it is likely that people will need to resort to invasive sampling procedures like amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling less and less.

The problem with amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling is their risks and side effects-they are also far more impractical than the medical blood draw required for a non invasive test. In the worst case scenario, both CVS and amniocentesis can lead to a miscarriage. The incidence rate of miscarriage is actually higher with CVS than with amniocentesis; CVS is also carried out earlier in the pregnancy.


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