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When it comes to childcare proceedings, identifying the father early is important to ensure a comprehensive assessment can be carried out. It also ensures any possible risks and vulnerabilities are fully considered at the earliest stage. When a baby’s biological father is unknown, a legal DNA paternity test would need to be performed after the baby has been born. However, the antenatal period provides a window of opportunity for practitioners and families to work together. These extra months before the baby is born can ensure that the appropriate support is in place to best protect the baby following the birth. Prenatal paternity testing can help. Using this DNA test, the baby’s biological father can be established as early as 5 weeks after conception (or 7 weeks after the last period).

Knowing both mother and father means the childcare team can assess the family’s ability to adequately parent and protect the baby once born. It is important that all agencies involved in pre- and post-birth assessment and support, fully consider the role of the father in the care of the baby, even if the parents are not living together. This should include the father’s attitude towards the pregnancy, the mother and newborn child; and his thoughts, feelings and expectations about becoming a parent. In this way, safety planning options, Early Help assessments and interventions can be explored and agreed together.

Another advantage to identifying the biological father sooner is that he can form a relationship with the unborn baby. Fathers play an important role during pregnancy and after the birth. The National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (2004) states: ‘The involvement of prospective and new fathers in a child’s life is extremely important for maximising the life-long wellbeing and outcomes of the child regardless of whether the father is resident or not. Pregnancy and birth are the first major opportunities to engage fathers in appropriate care and upbringing of children’ [1].

Prenatal paternity tests can help limit risk

As well as identifying the biological father, a prenatal paternity test can eliminate partners who are not the biological father at the earliest opportunity. Information about the father and potential partners should be gathered so any risk factors can be identified. A failure to identify these individuals means that practitioners cannot accurately assess the contribution which they may make to the care of the baby, the support given to the mother, or the risks which they might present to them. When required, background police and other checks need to be made at an early stage to ascertain any potential risk factors. Most importantly, a prenatal paternity test can avoid delay where a legal process is likely to be needed such as Pre-proceedings, Care or Supervision Proceedings in line with the Public Law Outline.

How do prenatal paternity tests work?

Prenatal paternity tests involve analysing the baby’s DNA within the mother’s bloodstream. This advanced procedure is non-invasive and 100% safe to the unborn child. The mother needs to provide a blood sample. The alleged father’s sample is obtained by using a mouth swab to collect DNA from his cheek cells. Samples from up to three alleged fathers can be analysed in each prenatal paternity test.

Because a baby inherits DNA from both of its parents, the prenatal paternity test analyses the DNA samples to identify which half of the DNA is inherited from the mother and which half is from the father. Both father and baby will share DNA if the tested man is indeed the biological father.

Results can be made available within 7 days. Alternatively, we offer an express 4-day service. More information and FAQs on prenatal paternity tests can be read in our Learning Centre article.

For more information or to get a quote, please contact our Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email us at

Order a prenatal paternity test

AlphaBiolabs is an award-winning DNA testing lab. Prenatal paternity testing starts from £875.

[1] National Service Framework, 2004