Paternity Testing

If you have had more than one partner, it is natural for you to want to know who the father of your baby is. There are different reasons to establish paternity. You may feel the need to collect support financially or emotionally, or simply for the piece of mind that accompanies knowing for sure. If you are reading this, it may be that you are unsure who the father of your child is. Paternity testing typically costs between $250.00 and $1,500.00, depending on the area which you live in and the type of paternity testing you choose. Results are usually given in 14 business days or less.

Types of Paternity Testing:

Postnatal (after your child's birth) DNA testing:

  • Blood collection and testing
  • Buccal swab (cheek swab) collection and testing
  • Umbilical cord collection and testing
  • Other sample collection and testing (semen, tissue, hair, etc.)

Prenatal (before your child's birth) DNA testing:

  • Amniocentesis: This test is performed in the second trimester. During this procedure, the doctor uses ultrasound to guide a thin needle into your uterus, through your abdomen. The needle draws out a small amount of amniotic fluid, which is tested. Risks include a small chance of harming the baby and miscarriage. Other side effects may include cramping, leaking amniotic fluid, and vaginal bleeding.
  • Chrionic Villus Sampling (CVS): This test consists of a thin needle or tube which a doctor inserts from the vagina, through the cervix, guided by an ultrasound, to obtain chrionic villi. Chrionic villi are little finger like pieces of tissue attached to the wall of the uterus. The chrionic villi and the fetus come from the same fertilized egg, and have the same genetic makeup.
  • Maternal Blood/Fetal Cell Testing: This procedure involves taking the mother and potential father’s blood to test the fetal cells. The mother must already be in her second trimester of pregnancy before testing can occur. The procedure is noninvasive and poses no risk to the mother or the fetus. This test is only reliable if the woman has never been pregnant before.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Paternity Testing:

How soon can we start the testing process?
DNA testing can be done as early as the second trimester of pregnancy, starting after the 12th week.

Are test results kept completely confidential?
It is a rule of most DNA laboratories to keep your results completely confidential. Speak with each laboratory individually on their policies concerning confidentiality.

What risk does DNA testing pose to the mother and the developing baby?
Testing conducted after a baby’s birth involves no known risks. Maternal Blood/Fetal Cell testing also has no known risks associated with it, but this new method of testing is not offered in all testing centers. Prenatal DNA testing done in conjunction with other prenatal testing involves some risk associated with how the testing is conducted, whether amniocentesis or CVS. These tests are often discouraged for the sole reason of seeking paternity because of the increased miscarriage risk.

How much does it cost to establish paternity?
Costs will vary dependent on which types of procedures are performed. Prices can range from $250.00 and $1,500.00. Prenatal testing is more costly that testing done after a baby is born. Some testing sites offer lower cost testing that is non-court-approved, or "curiosity testing." Most centers offer payment plans and will require full payment before they release the results to you.

Can I use the DNA test results in court?
Many centers now offer court-approved tests, but also lower cost "curiosity testing." If you aren't sure if you will need the results for a court case, it is probably worth the extra cost to go ahead and have a court-approved test done.

Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association