Category Archives: DNA
In instances when a prospective mother is uncertain about the paternity of her child, a new, reliable test can determine it even in the first few months of fetal development.
Furthermore, the test can pinpoint paternity using a non-invasive procedure; existing reliable pre-natal paternity tests such as amniocentesis are invasive and carry a small risk of miscarriage.
How the tests works
The tests require blood samples from the mother and from one of the prospective fathers (if there are two), and doctors may not even have to get involved. The test then measures DNA fragments from the fetus that will be present in the mother’s blood.
(This method is also what enables a fetus’s entire genome to be decoded from a mother’s blood sample and a father’s saliva.)
Although noninvasive prenatal paternity tests have been offered on the Internet for about a decade, users of those have complained about inaccurate or fraudulent results.
An experiment with a small sample size showed the new test to be reliable: The New England Journal of Medicine published results showing that the test accurately determined paternity in 30 cases.
That study was of a paternity test by Ravgen, a small Maryland company that has been offering its test for $950 to $1,650, depending on the circumstances, according to The New York Times.
Another test offered by a Silicon Valley company called Natera costs $1,775, and is marketed by the DNA Diagnostics Center, which specializes in conventional paternity tests. The results of the Natera test’s accuracy have not been published in any peer-reviewed journals.
Additionally, neither test has been certified by the American Association of Blood Banks for the accuracy necessary for child custody cases; the AABB is currently considering whether to certify prenatal tests. Read the full article by Laura Shin at smartplanet.com
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