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How To Get a Paternity Test

Updated on April 1, 2015

Paternity tests are important in the way that they provide a strong establishment of a sense of family and emotional bonds. People choose to have a paternity test done in order to provide a stable environment for the child, as well as for the parents. Tests are also commonly conducted in order to determine the outcome of a court case concerning custody. It can help provide a healthy and stable future as well.

If you are interested in having a paternity test conducted, you are not alone. Over 300,000 paternity tests are conducted each year. These tests can be done for a multitude of reasons. Some are done to ensure legal benefits such as social security or inheritance. Others are done to provide a complete and accurate medical history for the child.

All legitimate paternity tests are conducted by a laboratory that is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) is the association that is in charge of the great majority of tests conducted in the United States.

There are several different types of paternity tests:

  • Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity (NIPP)

With a 99% accuracy, this is the most accurate non-invasive paternity test currently available to determine paternity before the baby has been born. The process of the NIPP combines the latest technology with traditional methods of analyzing DNA that is found in the mother’s bloodstream. The test requires blood samples from both the mother and the father, and can be conducted anytime after the woman passes the 8 week mark of pregnancy.

  • Amniocentesis

This form of test can be conducted at anytime between the mother’s 14th and 20th weeks of pregnancy. During this test, the doctor will guide a needle into the mother’s uterus with the help of ultrasound. The needle will extract a small amount of amniotic fluid, which is the fluid that will be tested. This procedure does have some risks, due to the nature of the test. Risks include a very small chance of harm to the fetus and possible chance of miscarriage. Side effects include cramping that is similar to menstrual cramps, the leaking of amniotic fluid, and possible vaginal bleeding. Due to the nature of the test and the risks it poses, a doctors approval is always needed before the conducting of an Amniocentesis.

  • Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

This form of paternity test may be conducted at anytime between the 10th and 13th weeks of pregnancy. For this test, the doctor will insert a thin needle or a tube into the mother’s vagina and through the cervix using an ultrasound. The needle or tube will retrieve chorionic villi, which are finger-like bits of tissue that is found on the walls of the uterus. Because the villi and the fetus itself come from the same egg, they share the same genetic makeup. Like the Amniocentesis test, this test requires the consent of a doctor before being conducted.

The cost

Paternity tests typically cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000. The price is dependent on the type of procedure that is conducted as well as the skill and professionalism of the doctor that conducts the test. Tests that are conducted after the birth of the child are more expensive due to additional fees from the doctor and/or hospital. Though not suggested, some places offer less-costly testing that is more for research purposes. If the mother or father are unable to afford the procedure, payment plans are available, although the results of the test will not be released to the parents until the payment is full.

Of course, the results of all tests are kept confidential, as abiding to the rules set by the majority of DNA laboratories. While this is a common standard, it is always a good idea to discuss your laboratories’ individual policies concerning security and confidentiality. If the results are intended to be used in court, the results must be court-approved. This may add extra cost to the overall price of the procedure, but it is suggested that if you are not sure whether or not you will need to use the results in court, it is better to take the “better safe than sorry” approach and have the results court-approved beforehand to avoid future confusion and stress.

Many people have the question of exactly how paternity tests work. Modern paternity tests are a direct analyzation and examination of the genetic makeup that a child received from both its mother and its father. The genetic makeup is analyzed through DNA. All DNA that a person possesses is determined immediately at conception and remains exactly the same all throughout life. During a paternity test, the child’s DNA is compared to that of the mother, and then that of the father. Characteristics that are found in the child but not in the mother are then searched for in the genetic makeup of the father. If those characteristics are not found in the father, it is concluded that he is not the biological father. If he does in fact have the characteristics at hand, he is determined the father of the child.

Common Questions

  • How soon can the test be conducted?

DNA testing to determine paternity can be done as early as the end of the first trimester.

  • What risks are the baby and I facing during a paternity test?

Any tests conducted after the birth of the baby pose no known risks. However, some risks are posed during CVS or Amniocentesis procedures due to the invasive nature. These tests pose a risk of miscarriage, so they are not generally suggested. Speak to your doctor about what testing is right for you, and what things will put you at risk.

  • Can a paternity test help determine the date of conception?

It is not uncommon for women to want to know the exact date of conception, though this is something that is quite hard to determine. To determine the date of conception or general time of conception, the time of ovulation must first be determined. Unfortunately, most women do not regularly ovulate at the same exact time each month. Doctors generally use a the date of the first day of the woman’s last menstruation to try to pinpoint a general timepoint when the baby was conceived.

For more information on DNA paternity testing, visit DNA Paternity Tests.

For more information of paternity and DNA testing, contact the DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC). It is important to always contact and use a facility that is accredited by the AABB. The DDC is the American Pregnancy Association’s official organization of paternity testing, so they will be the very best place to get all the information you need. Feel free to call 1-800-798-0580 for more details.

How To - Paternity DNA Testing

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