DNA Testing After Fertility Treatments

Casey Randall AlphaBiolabs

By Casey Randall, Head of Genetics at AlphaBiolabs

Last reviewed: 02/10/2023

DNA tests after fertility treatments

With increasing numbers of babies being born as a result of fertility treatment, DNA testing can give you peace of mind over the biological identity of your child.

More and more people are turning to IVF and surrogacy in a bid to have the family they have always dreamed of. While these advances in science have given the gift of parenthood to large numbers of people who are unable to conceive naturally, they have also brought with them potential doubts over both the paternity and maternity of the resulting baby.

Although mistakes and mix-ups are extremely rare, DNA testing is a way of establishing the identity of a child’s biological mother and father for certain.

DNA testing and surrogacy

The number of children being born through surrogacy continues to rise in the UK since it was introduced in 1985 under The Surrogacy Arrangements Act. The number of parental orders made following a surrogate birth tripled from 121 in 2011 to 368 in 2018. Since 2010, surrogacy has also enabled same-sex couples to become parents in the UK.

Surrogacy is often used by women who are physically unable to carry a pregnancy to term or who have been born without a womb or had to undergo a hysterectomy for medical reasons. Other people may choose surrogacy if they suffer from a condition which would make pregnancy dangerous for their own health.

There are two types of surrogate mother: traditional and gestational. In both cases, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is used to gather eggs from the mother or a donor, fertilise them with sperm, and place the embryo into a surrogate’s uterus.

A traditional (or straight) surrogate uses her own eggs, making her the biological mother of the child. These eggs can be artificially fertilised by the father’s sperm or donor sperm. The surrogate mother carries the baby, delivers that baby and then gives that baby to the parents to raise.

A gestational (or host) surrogate has no biological link to the baby. A fertilised egg is implanted into her womb and she carries the baby on behalf of the parents. This surrogate has no genetic link to the baby because it wasn’t her egg that was used. The embryo is either fully made up of both intended parents’ genetics, or made up of one intended parents’ genetics plus either donor eggs or donor sperm. The gestational surrogate carries the baby until birth and then hands it over.

Why would I need a DNA test?

DNA testing can establish the biological parents of a child. Maternity and paternity tests will give parents who have children through surrogacy proof that the baby was conceived as a result of their procedure and not as a result of their surrogate falling pregnant naturally at a similar time.

Under UK law, the woman acting as the surrogate is initially considered to be the baby’s legal mother. Parents need to apply for a parental order within 6 months of the birth, which will transfer those legal rights from the surrogate mother to them.

To obtain a parental order, you must be biologically related to the child so a DNA test can help you establish this and support your application. If you are not genetically related to the child, then your only option is to adopt them and a registered adoption agency must be involved in the surrogacy process.

If you use a surrogate in another country, you may need to prove your baby is biologically related to you to bring them back to the UK with you. This is also important in demonstrating that they have a right to British citizenship.

Will my baby inherit DNA from its surrogate mother?

Unless the surrogate is using her own egg, your child’s DNA will come from you and your partner. If you have chosen to use an egg or sperm from someone else then your child will inherit DNA from the donor.

IVF and DNA testing

Couples often use in vitro fertilisation (IVF) when they find it difficult or impossible to conceive a child due to their age, fertility problems or other reasons.

Statistics from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) show that in 2017, 54,760 patients underwent 75,425 fertility treatment cycles in the UK. Donor insemination and IVF made up the majority of treatments.

During the IVF process, doctors collect eggs from the mother and fertilise then with sperm from the father or a donor. In 2017, 13% of IVF procedures involved the use of donor eggs and/or donor sperm. This percentage is increasing annually.

Fertilisation takes place in a laboratory and the resulting embryo is then implanted in the mother’s womb. The procedure does not always result in a successful pregnancy and the chance of IVF resulting in a healthy baby falls with age.

As the fertilisation process takes place in a clinic or hospital, there is a small risk that there could be a mix-up which could result in a woman carrying a child which is not biologically related to her. Although mistakes of this kind are extremely rare, parents might find it reassuring to take a paternity and maternity test for their peace of mind. It is also possible to take a prenatal DNA test so if there have been any errors, they will be discovered before the child is born.

What kind of test do I need?

AlphaBiolabs offers peace of mind DNA tests, both paternity and maternity, which can be ordered online. We use the very latest scientific technology and we are the only laboratory in the UK to offer up to 45 marker paternity testing.

If you need to prove paternity or maternity for official reasons or as part of court proceedings, you will need a legal DNA test, which follows a strict set of procedures to ensure the results are admissible as evidence.

Prenatal DNA testing after IVF

Prenatal paternity testing can be performed before a baby is born to confirm if the sperm donor is the biological father. This confirmation can only be made when the mother is certain she is carrying her own embryo. The test can be performed from as early as 7 weeks after conception (or 9 weeks after the last period). This non-invasive method requires a mouth swab from the sperm donor and a blood sample from the mother. There is no risk to the mother or the unborn child when taking this test.

If you have any questions, call 0333 600 1300 to find out more.

Order your DNA test

AlphaBiolabs is an award-winning DNA testing lab. DNA tests start from just £99.

Casey Randall AlphaBiolabs

Casey Randall

Head of Genetics at AlphaBiolabs

Casey joined the AlphaBiolabs team in 2012 and heads up both the DNA and Covid-19 testing teams.

An expert in DNA analysis and a member of the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG), Casey holds an MSc with Distinction in DNA Profiling and a First-Class BSc with Honours in Forensic Science.

Casey is responsible for maintaining the highest quality testing standards, as well as looking for ways to further enhance the service that AlphaBiolabs provides and exploring new and innovative techniques in DNA analysis.

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