DNA testing during pregnancy

DNA testing during pregnancy

DNA testing during pregnancy

Until relatively recently, parents had to wait until the birth of their baby to find out the sex, the potential health concerns, and sometimes the paternity of their child. But with DNA testing becoming more accessible, and with analysis techniques continuing to advance, it is now possible to learn a significant amount of information about your unborn child through prenatal DNA testing – all before you reach your second trimester.

There are three types of DNA tests that you can take while pregnant: prenatal paternity tests, foetal sex tests (sometimes advertised as “baby gender tests”), and prenatal screening tests. With these tests now available to the public, you can achieve peace of mind about the father of your child, prepare for your son or daughter, and – if your child is likely to be born with a health condition – make sure they receive the best possible care before they enter the world.

Before taking a prenatal DNA test, it’s important to know exactly what information you’ll be provided with, and what you are or are not able to find out.

Prenatal Paternity Tests

It is now possible to confirm the biological father of an unborn child through a prenatal paternity test. Taking a paternity test while pregnant can help to reduce stress by removing uncertainty, and allow you to make care and visitation arrangements early on.

Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Tests

Non-Invasive Prenatal Tests (often shortened to “NIPT”) for paternity can be taken from 10 weeks in pregnancy, measured from the Last Menstrual Period (LMP). These DNA tests analyse the cell-free foetal DNA present in the mother’s blood from a few weeks into pregnancy, and compare it with DNA from a cheek swab sample given by the potential father in order to test for paternity.

Potential fathers can take the cheek swab samples themselves at home. However, the mother’s blood sample will have to be collected by a trained medical professional. This may incur an extra cost, and you may have to arrange an appointment with your medical practitioner yourself.

Things to bear in mind
When conducted properly, prenatal paternity tests are 99.99% accurate; the same level of accuracy as normal paternity tests. However, regulation of prenatal DNA tests is currently very limited, and so there are some companies that offer substandard testing with the promise of 99% accuracy.

Here are some things to watch out for when choosing a prenatal paternity testing company:

Cheap prices. Prenatal paternity tests are expensive. Really expensive. It costs a lot for the lab to conduct these tests, so expect to pay somewhere in the range of £1000 or more, and beware of tests offering prices that are obviously undercutting their competitors’. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Hidden costs. Again, prenatal paternity tests are expensive. Companies will sometimes try to hide the full cost by charging different amounts at different stages of the testing process. For instance, you may have already paid to submit your samples, but then have to pay a lab fee in order to begin testing or receive your results. Some companies will deliver results over the phone, but then charge extra for written results.

If they allow you to take the blood sample yourself. The blood sample will need to be taken by a trained medical practitioner, and you will often have to arrange this yourself (which may incur an extra cost). The testing company you use may arrange a collection for you, though there will probably be another charge for this. Any company that allows you to take a blood sample yourself, particularly if they ask only for a blood sample on card (using a finger-pricking device), will not deliver accurate results.

If they allow you to take the test earlier than 10 weeks into pregnancy. The earliest you can take a prenatal paternity test is 10 weeks from your Last Menstrual Period (LMP). Tests taken earlier than 10 weeks will not yield accurate results.

If they let you submit “discreet” samples. Some companies will allow you to submit “discreet” samples of the potential father’s DNA, such as cigarette butts or tissues. This will greatly affect the accuracy of the results. It is also sometimes a red flag that a company is not very reputable. In some countries – including the UK – it is illegal to test a person’s DNA without their consent, and doing so could lead to legal action.

The quality of the company’s website. It may not seem important, but if a company’s website is obviously outdated, has a lot of bugs, is difficult to navigate, looks pixilated and grainy, has a lot of poorly formatted graphics, or isn’t HTTPS encrypted – then you ought to consider the possibility that they aren’t running a legitimate operation. Think of it this way: if they can’t afford a good website, then they probably can’t afford a good lab.

This may all seem like a lot of information to consider, but as prenatal paternity tests are still relatively new, many people don’t know what they ought to look out for, and don’t realise that the sale of these tests is largely unregulated. Make sure you are as informed as you can be before purchasing a prenatal paternity test.

Providers we recommend for NIPT paternity tests are:
DNA Diagnostics Center
Easy DNA
Alpha Biolabs
International Biosciences

You can find a list of more providers offering non-invasive prenatal paternity tests here.

Invasive Prenatal Paternity Tests

As well as the non-invasive method, there are two types of invasive prenatal tests you can take to test paternity. These are CVS (Chorionic Villi Sampling) and amniocentesis.

A CVS test involves a needle being inserted into the placenta, either through the stomach or the cervix, to extract a small number of cells from a section known as the chorionic villi. This is usually done under local anaesthetic, and is always carried out by a trained medical professional. CVS tests can be carried out after 11 weeks into pregnancy.

The other method, amniocentesis, is a similar procedure, but amniotic fluid is collected instead of a sample from the chorionic villi. Amniocentesis can be carried out 15 weeks into pregnancy.

It is unlikely you will ever be recommended an invasive procedure unless it is for a health concern that has already been non-invasively tested for. However, some companies do offer this as a method of conducting a paternity test while pregnant.

Both of these invasive methods for testing paternity carry a small – though not insignificant – risk of miscarriage. Studies from the 1970s put the risk at about 1 in 100 for CVS, and 1 in 200 for amniocentesis. However, a more recent meta-analysis estimated the risk of miscarriage to now be closer to 1 in 500 for CVS, and 1 in 1000 for amniocentesis.

Some people may be tempted to opt for an invasive test due to the cheaper cost compared to non-invasive tests. However, these procedures must be carried out by trained medical professionals, and so the medical costs they incur could make them as expensive as non-invasive tests, or perhaps more so.

Prenatal Sex Testing / Baby Gender Testing

Unlike prenatal paternity tests, foetal sex tests can be conducted as early as seven weeks into pregnancy, measured from the Last Menstrual Period. These tests look for cell-free foetal DNA (cffDNA) belonging to the foetus, which can be detected in the mother’s blood. These tests are 95-98% accurate from 7-20 weeks, with their accuracy rising to 97-99% after 20 weeks. Usually, these tests are only offered after 10 weeks, possibly to improve the accuracy.

Often, you will not have your first ultrasound until 14 weeks into pregnancy, and so it is sometimes possible to determine your baby’s sex before your first ultrasound using a DNA test. These tests are not a replacement for an ultrasound test, which is important for monitoring your unborn baby’s health and development, and predicting your due date.

Like non-invasive prenatal paternity tests, a prenatal sex DNA test requires a blood draw taken by a trained medical professional. The blood sample taken will not be as large as for a paternity test, since less foetal DNA is needed to determine sex. Still, beware of companies that offer baby gender tests that require you to only prick your finger onto card, or draw the blood yourself. These will not yield accurate results.

Prenatal sex tests look only for the presence of a Y chromosome, which would indicate a boy. If no Y chromosome is detected, then it is highly probable the baby will be a girl. You will typically receive results within two weeks. As prenatal sex testing is far less complicated than prenatal paternity testing, it is also far less expensive, costing around £200.

For prenatal sex tests, we recommend International Biosciences. Other testing providers can be found here.

Limitations of foetal sex testing
It is important to note that if you have suffered a miscarriage in the same year as your current pregnancy, your results may be affected by residual cell-free DNA from your previous pregnancy. Prenatal blood tests are not able to distinguish between cell-free DNA from a current or previous pregnancy.

If you are carrying twins, then a DNA test on the mother’s blood will only be able to tell you if you are carrying at least one boy (if a Y chromosome is detected) or if you are carrying only girls (no Y chromosome). So, if a Y chromosome is detected, you may be carrying only boys, or a boy and a girl.

Ethical implications of foetal sex testing
There have been concerns that foetal sex tests may be used – and have already been used – to abort foetuses based on sex selection. In some countries, such as China and India, prenatal genetic tests for sex have been banned for fear that pregnancies will be terminated in favour of having male children. In the UK, it is illegal to abort a pregnancy on the basis of foetal sex.

Prenatal Screening DNA Tests

Most healthcare providers only screen for only Down’s syndrome (also called Trisomy 21), Edward’s syndrome (Trisomy 18), and Patau’s syndrome (Trisomy 13). This screening is performed using a blood test offered 10-14 weeks into pregnancy, and looks for the proteins and hormones associated with these conditions.

Studies have shown that testing the baby’s DNA can more accurately predict whether he or she will be born with one of these conditions. In fact, it has been estimated that the protein- and hormone-based blood test for Down’s syndrome predicts the condition with 85-90% certainty, which includes 2.5% “false positive” results. False positives are an important issue because a positive prediction often leads to the termination of the pregnancy. However, DNA tests using the mother’s blood are thought to be 98% accurate, and to result in fewer false positives.

You can take a DNA screening test from about 10 weeks into pregnancy. Private prenatal health screening usually costs around £1000. Currently, relatively few providers offer this type of prenatal testing, which may be part of the reason why the service is so expensive, as well as the laboratory costs involved in extracting foetal DNA.

Like prenatal paternity and sex tests, prenatal screening tests require blood to be drawn from the mother by a medical professional, which is another reason why the cost is relatively high. Still, you may have to cover the medical costs separately.

You’ll typically receive the results of your screening test in about two weeks.

Ethical implications of prenatal screening
Some people have voiced concerns that the NIPT screening tests may result in people with Down’s syndrome disappearing from society. In Denmark and Iceland, where screening is almost universal, the abortion rate of foetuses likely to have Down’s syndrome is close to 100%.

In the UK, there are concerns that private clinics offering genetic screening may not provide the same amount of information and counselling as the NHS, meaning that parents may not understand the implications of genetic screening tests, or feel they do not have adequate support in moving forward with the information they are given. If you opt for a prenatal screening test with a private company, it is a good idea to look into what support they offer, and to learn as much as you can about the testing process, and the conditions being tested for.

Melanie

10 April 2017

Can you find out the ethnicity or nationality before the baby is born?

Hi Melanie,

Thank you for your recent comment.

I'm afraid we don't know of any DNA tests that will determine the ethnicity or nationality of an unborn baby.

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Bahar

10 August 2017

Is it possibl e to dna test after 7 month of pregnancy

Hi Bahar,

Thank you for your recent comment.

Yes, that should be possible. We’d recommend visiting this page, which lists the providers that sell prenatal paternity tests: https://dnatestingchoice.com/prenatal-paternity-testing

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Jamie

9 October 2017

Can you do a sibling DNA test while pregnant?

Hi Jamie,

Thank you for your recent comment.

Yes, you should be able to take a sibling DNA test while pregnant. However, to find out for certain before purchasing a test, we’d suggest contacting some of the providers on this page: https://dnatestingchoice.com/sibling-testing

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Jenny

27 October 2017

Will the result of the DNA test while prenant provide with the data of the matched or unmatched genetic as well or just the percentage of the paternity?

Hi Jenny,

Thank you for your recent comment.

The content and format of prenatal paternity reports will depend on the provider you use. We would recommend contacting some of the companies on this page to find out specifically what their report includes: https://dnatestingchoice.com/prenatal-paternity-testing

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Kashiram

27 November 2017

I would to check paternity test(DNA) In India which locations is DNA diagnostic centers available. is it possible in 8 weeks of pregnancy

Hi Kashiram,

Thank you for your recent comment.

We'd recommend contacting DNA Diagnostics Center directly, to enquire about where and how soon in the pregnancy they are able to carry out a prenatal paternity test. You can read more about their prenatal paternity test and request a call on this page: https://dnacenter.com/india/dna-paternity-test/prenatal-paternity-test/

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

nadia

26 December 2017

Can a baby have a DNA of two people who are related?

Hi Nadia,

Thank you for your recent comment.

Although it is possible, any kind of paternity test carried out when the alleged fathers are related is more complicated than when they are not. We'd therefore recommend contacting some of the providers listed on this page and explaining your situation, to find out whether they are able to carry out testing for you: https://dnatestingchoice.com/prenatal-paternity-testing

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Steely Michaela Byron

5 January 2018

Hi are you able to do a DNA test at 7 weeks as that’s what I’ve been told to do by prenatal paternity inc.
I’ve been told to take my bloods on the 12th of jan & my bfs DNA ? Is 7 weeks to early ?

Hi,

Thank you for your recent comment.

The latest technology available to prenatal paternity testing companies does allow this kind of testing to take place from around 7-10 weeks into pregnancy, so this is possible.

I hope that helps!

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Chris

14 January 2018

Hi i think i know the answer but i will still ask can a paternity test be taken while the mother is still pregnant without a DNA sample from the father?

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your recent comment.

It wouldn't be possible to take any kind of paternity test without a sample from the alleged father, as this must be compared to the child's DNA to determine paternity.

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

mpho m

24 January 2018

how much does it cost to have paternity dna tests

Hi Mpho,

Thank you for your recent comment.

The cost of paternity testing varies, depending on the provider you use and whether you want it for peace of mind or legal reasons. We’d suggest visiting this page and filtering by price for the full range of prices of prenatal paternity tests: https://dnatestingchoice.com/prenatal-paternity-testing.

If you're looking for a standard paternity test, you can see the range of prices on this page: https://dnatestingchoice.com/paternity-testing.

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Satyajit Guha

7 March 2018

I , Satyajit Guha want to know that my wife is 5mns pregnant. Can it possible for doing DNA test during her 5mns pregnancy ?

Hi Satyajit,

Thank you for your recent comment.

I’m afraid we don't know of any DNA tests that can tell you how many months pregnant someone is.

Sorry that we can't help further.

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Erica

22 March 2018

Can u use other samples for DNA test excluding the blood samples using the DNA test kit and what sample does the pregnant woman have to get using the kit

Hi Erica,

Thank you for your recent comment.

I'm afraid we don't know of any tests that accept alternatives to the samples mentioned in this article. We’d suggest contacting some of the prenatal DNA test providers listed on in our Baby Gender Testing or Prenatal Paternity Testing pages to see if they can offer alternative options:

https://dnatestingchoice.com/baby-gender-testing

https://dnatestingchoice.com/prenatal-paternity-testing

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Raul Jaquez III

4 April 2018

If I understand correctly, Can DNA tests show which majority of the genes the baby has? Ex: does it have more Mom or more Dad genes?

Hi Raul,

Thank you for your recent comment.

Prenatal DNA tests are currently able to determine whether a man is the biological father of the unborn baby (paternity), the gender of the unborn baby or whether the baby is likely to be born with any genetic health conditions. We're not aware of any tests that determine how much DNA the baby has inherited from the mother or father, as we all inherit about 50% of our DNA from each of our parents.

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Siti bibi

15 April 2018

Can dna test(paternity) be done for mother of the twin at 16 weeks of pregnancy…..many thanks

Hi Siti,

Thank you for your recent comment.

We'd recommend getting in touch with some of the providers listed on this page and explaining your situation, to find out whether they are able to carry out testing for you: https://dnatestingchoice.com/prenatal-paternity-testing

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Benjamin

16 April 2018

Are you able to have an Paternity test done at 6 months pregnant?

Hi Benjamin,

Thank you for your recent comment.

Yes, a prenatal paternity test can be taken from around 10 weeks into pregnancy.

I hope that helps!

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Mike

19 April 2018

How accurate is DNA testing during pregnancy. My child was diagnosed with Klein linger syndrome. Would additional DNA testing from my unborn baby to confirm results.

Hi Mike,

Thank you for your recent comment.

You can find a list of prenatal screening providers here: https://dnatestingchoice.com/search/category/health-testing

On the bar on the left, you can filter for "prenatal screening".

If this is something you're concerned about, we recommend you talk to a healthcare professional.

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Taize

1 May 2018

Can I do the test with 20 weeks pregnant?

Hi Taize,

Thank you for your recent comment.

Yes, you can take a paternity test from around ten weeks into pregnancy.

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Stephen Drew

4 June 2018

Is there a test to determine if the fetus is African-American or not

Hi Stephen,

Thank you for your comment.

Currently we know of no providers offering heritage testing for unborn children. If you're unsure of the child's paternity, we have a list of prenatal paternity testing providers here: https://dnatestingchoice.com/en-us/prenatal-paternity-testing

I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Kathleen

7 June 2018

I’m 7 weeks pregnant And need find out who the dad as soon as possible

Hi Kathleen,

Thank you for commenting.

In your case, I'd suggest a non-invasive prenatal paternity test. You can find a list of providers here (you can sort by rating or price): https://dnatestingchoice.com/prenatal-paternity-testing

It might be best to contact the lab yourself to ask how early you can take the test (normally the earliest time is between 7 and 9 weeks). They can also explain the procedure to you.

I hope this information is helpful!

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Crai

14 August 2018

Is it possible to do prenatal testing for a 3-4mos pregnant? Is it possible to use only the hair of the father not blood sample? Thank you!

Hi Crai,

Thank you for commenting!

You can generally do a prenatal paternity test from the 8th week of pregnancy, and so 3-4 months is fine. These tests are 99.99% accurate, and a non-invasive test is much safer than CVS or amniocentesis (which can also involve medical costs).

For the father's DNA, companies generally ask for a cheek swab sample. Some labs may allow you to send in nail clippings, however other means of DNA collection (e.g. hair, tissues, etc.) will yield a far less accurate result. (If you are taking the test in the UK, please note that it is illegal to test the father's DNA without his permission.)

For a non-invasive prenatal paternity test, the mother's blood will need to be collected by a trained professional. To ensure you get the test from a reputable company, please read the reviews listed here: https://dnatestingchoice.com/prenatal-paternity-testing

Kind regards,

Harriet

Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Sally

12 November 2018

Hi, I’m thirteen weeks pregnant with twins. I’d like to know if it’s possible to carry out a non-invasive paternity test. would it be accurate. I’m not doing this to know the sex or anything. Just for paternity. thank you. ?

Hi Sally,

Thank you for commenting.

For prenatal paternity testing, I recommend you choose an accredited, internationally respected company such as Easy DNA). Prenatal paternity testing is much more difficult than ordinary paternity tests, since non-invasive tests rely on extracting fetal DNA from the mother's blood, which there is usually very little of. This is why prenatal tests are much more expensive, and also why you have to be careful when choosing a provider, and not motivated by price. If you want accurate results, expect to pay upward of £1000.

I recommend you read prenatal paternity testing reviews before coming to a decision. It is also a good idea to get a paternity test from another (also reliable) company for each baby once they are born in order to confirm paternity.

Another option is "invasive" prenatal paternity tests, either CVS or amniocentesis. These can confirm paternity with 99.9% accuracy, but carry a small risk of miscarriage, and you will often have to pay medical fees on top of the price quoted.

I hope this information is helpful to you!

Kind regards,
Harriet Seldon | Services Team

Nat

17 February 2019

Can you find out the DNA (who’s the father) if your pregnant with twins whilst pregnant??

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