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Can You Take A DNA Test While Pregnant?
Updated on September 16, 2022
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Can You Take A DNA Test While Pregnant?

Pregnant women may want to take DNA tests for several reasons.

For some, it sparks their curiosity to learn more about their family history and genetic traits.

Other women take DNA tests before their child’s birth. It helps them become aware of potential health risks that may affect their pregnancy or their baby’s health.

In rare cases, a pregnant mother may need DNA evidence to obtain legal rights for their baby. Establishing paternity can help with child support, child custody, benefits, and inheritance.

Can You Take A DNA Test While Pregnant? 2

Some prenatal DNA tests are slightly invasive, however. They may require amniotic fluid, fetal cells, or placental tissue samples from inside your womb.

Like many expecting moms, you might be worried it would harm your unborn baby. So we talked to Dr. Rizza Mira, a pediatrician, to learn about the safety of DNA testing while pregnant.

Is DNA Testing While Pregnant Safe For The Baby?

Yes. It is generally safe to take a DNA test while pregnant.

Pregnancy can make you think twice before doing things to your body. However, a non-invasive test won’t affect your child in any way.

Some invasive tests (such as prenatal cell-free DNA screening) are harmless to the baby. Most carry a slight risk of miscarriage and infection, but these happen rarely.1

For your safety, a doctor will first make sure you’re qualified for prenatal DNA testing. They will also monitor you during the test to keep you and your baby safe.

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Benefits of DNA Testing While Pregnant

DNA testing during pregnancy offers these benefits:

  • Knowing your ancestral background
  • Knowing which health problems you’re at risk for
  • Knowing what genetic conditions your baby may have before birth
  • Determining paternity or the fatherhood of a child
  • Getting evidence to support legal cases

DNA helps you discover your lineage and where your ancestors may have come from. To some people, it’s important to know their origins. It can shape how they raise their child.2

Some DNA test results confirm paternity or support legal cases that involve the child. A DNA paternity test can also disprove that a man is a child’s biological father.

Prenatal DNA tests can tell you which genetic disorders your baby might have. They can screen for neural birth defects (NDT), congenital heart disease, and even Down Syndrome.

How DNA Testing Is Done If You’re Pregnant

Pregnant women can take 3 types of DNA tests before giving birth:

  • Prenatal paternity testing
  • Prenatal genetic testing
  • At-home DNA testing

How they’re done and the type of samples collected will depend on the test.

Taking A Paternity Test While Pregnant

Prenatal paternity tests can either confirm or disprove the biological link between the possible father and an unborn child. The result can be helpful in many legal situations.

These tests are usually performed in hospitals. A health provider will take the samples, find genetic matches, and explain the results. There are two types of prenatal paternity testing:3 

Invasive Prenatal Paternity Test

Samples are collected from the unborn baby while inside the mother’s womb. The child’s DNA is compared with the possible father’s DNA. 

Invasive DNA paternity tests can be done in two ways:3,4

  • Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) — placental tissue is retrieved at 10 to 13 weeks
  • Amniocentesis — amniotic fluid is drawn from the amniotic sac at 14 to 24 weeks

According to Dr. Rizza Mira, this test is generally safe.

“Invasive prenatal paternity tests are guided by an ultrasound machine to reduce the risk of harming the baby or miscarriage,” she explains.

Noninvasive Prenatal Paternity Test (NIPP)

The baby’s DNA is collected through the mother’s blood sample, which contains free-floating fetal cells. Results are compared with the cheek swab of the alleged father.

Prenatal Genetic Testing

Prenatal DNA testing screens a baby for genetic disorders or tell you which conditions they already have. What you’ll learn about your baby’s health will depend on the testing process.

Genetic Carrier Screening

The test collects DNA samples from the mother and father. It can be invasive (blood draw) or non-invasive (cheek swabs). Samples are screened for genetic errors called aneuploidies

Babies with aneuploidy will have missing or extra chromosomes in their genes. This increases their risk of developing certain health conditions.5

Dr. Mira says that other inherited conditions can be screened using these tests. Some examples include blood, metabolic and endocrine disorders.

“In pregnant women, first trimester and second trimester screening can help you decide whether or not to continue with DNA testing for diagnostic purposes,” she adds.

It enables your doctor to pinpoint the specific illness your child may have.

Cell-Free Fetal DNA Testing

At about 10 weeks of pregnancy, there’s enough fetal DNA in the mother’s bloodstream. Women can take this prenatal DNA test to see if their baby has genetic disorders, such as:6

  • Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21)
  • Patau Syndrome (Trisomy 13)
  • Edwards Syndrome (Trisomy 18)

According to Dr. Mira, doctors usually request a cell-free fetal DNA test if they think your baby has chromosomal abnormalities. The test is performed by collecting fetal cells through the mother’s blood.

At-Home DNA Testing While Pregnant

At-home DNA testing kits are non-invasive and require a cheek swab sample. They also come with directions that are easy to follow.

After you’re done with the sample collection, you can send it back for analysis. You can access test results online after a few weeks.

Is DNA Testing While Pregnant Affordable?

The cost of a DNA test during pregnancy depends on the type of test you’ll do. But many of these tests are not usually covered by health insurance.

Depending on your chosen test, the price ranges from $400 to $2,000.

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Should You Take A DNA Test While Pregnant?

It’s best that you talk to a doctor before making any decisions. They can guide you on the next steps and suggest DNA tests that you can take during pregnancy.

Genetic screening may be advised if one or both parents have a family history of genetic disorders. Positive results can prepare your family for early treatment.

Prenatal paternity testing may be necessary if you need to prove or disprove a child’s paternity while you’re still pregnant. But if you’re not in a rush, then you can wait until the baby is born.

At-home DNA tests are safe for all pregnant women because they’re completely non-invasive. They can help your child pave their way into the world by uncovering your roots and ancestry.

DNA testing kits can also tell you which health problems you and your baby may be at risk for. It gives you the chance to create a diet and lifestyle that reduces their health risks.

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Resources

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  1. Noninvasive prenatal paternity testing by means of SNP‐based targeted sequencing.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  2. Amniocentesis.” John Hopkins Medicine.
  3. Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Test (NIPP).” American Pregnancy Association.
  4. Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS).” John Hopkins Medicine.
  5. The Importance of Screening and Prenatal Diagnosis in the Identification of the Numerical Chromosomal Abnormalities.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  6. Prenatal Genetic Screening Tests.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Dr. Rizza Mira
Dr. Rizza Mira
Medical Reviewer
Dr. Rizza Mira is a medical doctor and a general practitioner who specializes in pediatrics, nutrition, dietetics, and public health.

As a pediatrician, she is dedicated to the general health and well-being of children and expecting parents. She believes that good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and prevention of illness are key to ensuring the health of children and their families.

When she’s not in the hospital, Rizza advocates and mobilizes causes like breastfeeding, vaccination drives, and initiatives to prevent illness in the community.
Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.
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