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‘Prenatal Paternity Testing’ lets you confirm whether or not a man is the biological father of your baby before they’re born. The tests tend to be categorised as ‘invasive’ and ‘non-invasive’.
Invasive tests involve a needle through the mother’s tummy to take the baby’s sample. This is then compared with a blood or cheek swab sample from the ‘alleged’ father (and sometimes from the mother to improve accuracy) to see if there’s a genetic match.
Non-invasive tests require a sample of the ‘alleged’ father and mother’s blood, in order to make a genetic comparison between the ‘alleged’ father and baby’s DNA (which is present in the mother’s bloodstream).
There are two main types of invasive test:
- ‘Chorionic Villi Sampling’ (CVS) involves taking a sample of cells from the placenta and can be done 12-14 weeks into pregnancy
- ‘Amniocentesis’ involves taking a sample of fluid from around the baby and can be done 16 weeks into pregnancy
Both CVS and Amniocentesis require a consultation with a medical professional before you can make the appointment to take the baby’s sample. Some providers will recommend clinics and others will require you to find one on your own. The procedure to take the baby’s sample may come with extra fees.
If the provider requires a blood sample from the ‘alleged’ father to compare with the baby’s sample; they’ll send you a kit with everything you need to preserve and return the ‘alleged’ father’s sample. You will then need to make an additional appointment to collect the ‘alleged’ father’s blood which may come with extra fees.
If the provider requires a cheek swab sample from the ‘alleged’ father (and possibly mother) to compare with the baby’s sample; these will be included in the kit and the cost, and can be taken at home.
Invasive tests are 99% accurate but it should be noted that the procedure for taking the baby’s sample carries a 1-2% risk of miscarriage
Because fragments of the baby’s DNA pass into the mother’s bloodstream, the baby’s DNA can be extracted from the mother’s blood as early as the tenth week of pregnancy.
On purchasing, the provider will send you a kit with everything you need to preserve and return the blood samples from the ‘alleged’ father and mother. However, most providers won’t allow you to collect the samples on your own. You will need to make an appointment for the samples to be collected and these procedures may come with extra fees. Make sure you can arrange these appointments before buying a test.
The tests are 99.99% accurate and non-invasive testing does not increase the risk of miscarriage.
Sample collection fees
If you’re unsure whether a provider includes the sampling procedures in the cost, make sure you check with them before you buy. Sampling procedures can cost up to £500 per person.