DNA testing before baby's birth

All Woman

DNA testing before baby's birth

Dr Sharmaine Mitchell

Monday, August 03, 2020

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Dear Dr Mitchell,

Is there any way to test the paternity of a child before birth? I am not sure which of two men is the father of my unborn child (I'm five months' pregnant), and was wondering if we could do testing before the birth. Is this at all possible? Both men and their families are excited and do not know about each other, and I want to spare the one who's not the father further distress.

You can get a DNA test before the baby is born by doing a non-invasive prenatal test which can be performed after the seventh week of pregnancy. This involves taking a small sample of blood from the mother and a swab from the cheek of the possible father. This does not pose any risk to the mother or baby. The test is extremely reliable and can be depended on to return a 99 per cent or higher probability of paternity if the man who is tested is considered to be the biological father, or a zero per cent probability of paternity if he is not the father.

The DNA paternity test, when done before delivery, can be a better choice than if done after delivery for some expectant mothers for several reasons. This lessens the stress associated with the uncertainty of the two fathers during the pregnancy. Constant stress can have negative effects on an unborn child. This includes low birth weight and premature delivery. Not knowing who the father of the child is can result in chronic stress, so getting the answer through a prenatal paternity test can help to take the load off your mind.

Knowing who the father is before birth can also help to create a better relationship with the father of your baby. When two or more possible fathers are in the picture, a prenatal paternity test can help you find the answers you need to make decisions about personal ties. Waiting until after the baby is born can complicate the process significantly.

Prenatal paternity testing can also help to make pre-arrangements for child support and custody issues. Prenatal testing to confirm the paternity of your child will also open up the avenue to get the biological father involved with financial and emotional support. Having the biological father in the delivery room or waiting outside is extremely important since giving birth is an intensely intimate and spiritual experience. When you do the paternity test while pregnant you can have the confidence that the right person is participating in the birth of the baby and the right name goes on the birth certificate.

CARIGEN at The University of the West Indies can do this test for you if you are in Jamaica. It is important to choose a highly accredited and respected paternity testing lab so that you can trust the results.

Consult your doctor who will advise you further.

Best regards.

Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or fax to 876-968-2025. All responses are published. Dr Mitchell cannot provide personal responses.


The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to medical advice or treatment from your own doctor.

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