Updated on: June 26, 2020

Have you considered DNA testing before your baby is born? You aren’t the only one. Many mothers test during pregnancy to rule out medical issues. DNA testing is also used to determine the biological father of an unborn baby.

What are three things you should know about DNA testing while pregnant?

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1. Why is DNA Testing Before a Baby is Born Useful?

A lot of mothers aren’t sure if they can undergo DNA testing while pregnant or why it’s something they might want to do.

The truth is you can have a test and there are several reasons why you might want to do so.

You can learn a lot about your baby with DNA testing. One of the most common uses for DNA testing before birth is to identify the father of a child. Knowing who the father of your child is helps you make decisions about financial issues and allows you to include the father in your preparations and the birth of your child. Keep in mind, to get accurate results from a DNA test for paternity, three samples need testing: the mother, the father, and the baby.

Keep in mind, even if you know who the father of your baby is, some states require an unmarried couple to have a paternity test in order to list the father’s name on the birth certificate. Additionally, if the mother is legally married to someone who is not the father, that person is presumed the father by law without a DNA test proving otherwise.

DNA testing is also used before and after a baby is born to identify health issues. These tests allow you to determine what genetic risks your baby faces. Knowing in advance the health issues that might arise once your baby is born helps you prepare for what’s to come.

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2. Is DNA Testing before a Baby is Born Safe?

For the most part, DNA testing during pregnancy is safe, but there are some risks. This is especially true if you are undergoing invasive DNA testing during pregnancy. There are two types of invasive tests used during pregnancy.

The first is Chorionic Villi Sampling (CVS). It is usually performed between the tenth and thirteenth weeks of pregnancy and involves taking cells from the placenta using a long, hollow needle inserted through the abdomen.

The second testing method is Amniocentesis. This type of test is usually performed between the fourteenth and twenty-fourth week of pregnancy. It involves taking the fetal cells released into the amniotic fluid using a long needle inserted into the abdomen.


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The risks of these types of DNA tests include:

  • Cramping
  • Leaking of amniotic fluid
  • Vaginal bleeding

The other faces the greatest amount of risk, but there is a slight risk of harming the unborn baby or miscarriage. A doctor performs invasive DNA testing, so you’ll have a chance to discuss your risks before deciding to undergo the test.

Non-invasive DNA testing during pregnancy is far less risky. These tests use a cheek swab or blood sample instead of withdrawing amniotic fluid. They are primarily used to test for paternity.

Non-invasive tests:

  • Eliminate fetal risk
  • Are an option as early as the ninth week of pregnancy
  • Offer results in as little as five days
  • Have a 99.9% success rate of determining paternity

In these tests, a blood sample is taken from the mother and the man who is potentially the baby’s father. The test isolates fetal DNA signals in the mother’s sample, which are then compared to the potential father’s sample. The results from this method of testing are not considered legally admissible, but they can help you determine if there is a cause for additional testing.

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3. Is DNA Testing While Pregnant Affordable?

Many of the tests available to expectant mothers are not covered by health insurance. This means anyone who wants these tests must pay out-of-pocket – something that isn’t always possible when you’re already thinking about the costs of raising a child.

The good news is DNA testing can be affordable depending on the type of test you use.

Costs will vary, depending on the type of test. Tests tend to range from $400.00 to $2,000.00. Non-invasive prenatal testing can cost more than a test performed after a baby is born, so if the cost is an issue and you can wait, you’ll pay less. If you prefer to test before birth, some testing facilities offer payment plans so you can undergo testing, but you might need to pay in full before receiving the results.

There are lower-cost tests that offer results that are not legally admissible. Some people call these “curiosity tests.” Tests such as this can be used in a variety of situations, but an example of one use would be if a couple is using IVF and natural methods to conceive a child and they want to confirm if the baby is from donated sperm or the father.

To learn more about DNA testing while pregnant or to schedule a test, contact your doctor or a testing facility that can provide you with more information.


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Joel is a writer with a passion for the science of DNA and the power of its manipulation.

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