Is it possible to test paternity before the baby’s birth?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Family Law on Wednesday, October 9, 2019.

If you are not married to the mother of your child in Missouri, it is advisable to legally establish paternity as soon as it is feasible to protect your parental rights. This typically involves the administration of a DNA test. If your child is not yet born, you may wonder if you can get a head start on the process and have your DNA paternity test completed now. This is scientifically possible, but it may not be a good idea, and you may have a hard time finding a doctor willing to assist you in that regard.

Before a DNA test can take place, it is necessary to collect samples of DNA from you, the child and the mother. For you and the mother, this is usually a simple matter of swabbing the inside of your cheek to collect cells and saliva. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are also two procedures that  allow a doctor to collect a baby’s DNA before birth. The first, chorionic villus sampling, involves collecting cells from the placenta, which connects the baby’s umbilical cord to the wall of the uterus. The second involves collecting a sample of the amniotic fluid, which is the watery substance in which the baby floats inside the womb. The name of this procedure is amniocentesis, and it requires the doctor to insert a needle through the mother’s abdomen and into the uterus.

Unfortunately, there is a slight risk of miscarriage with either of these procedures, 1% and 2%, respectively. A doctor may be understandably reluctant to put a baby’s life at risk unnecessarily. Therefore, if acquiring a DNA sample is the only reason for performing the procedure, the doctor may refuse. However, if there is a medical reason for performing either CVS or amniocentesis, you may ask the doctor if DNA testing could take place from the sample. In most cases, however, it is preferable to simply wait to collect a sample until after the baby’s birth.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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