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
Although surrogacy is still fairly unusual, a growing number of people in Britain are turning to this method to become parents. According to figures from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), 167 babies were born as a result of surrogacy in the UK in 2014. This is more than three times the number in 2007 when just 47 children were born to surrogate parents.
Surrogacy involves implanting a fertilised egg into the womb of a woman who has agreed to carry the baby on behalf of the parents. It 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.
Full surrogacy involves using an egg from the mother and sperm from the father. However, in some cases, a donor egg may be used or the surrogate could even offer to use her own egg.
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 six 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 Britain 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 HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) show that 48,147 women had IVF treatment in 2011, resulting in the birth of 17,041 babies. During the IVF process, doctors collect eggs from the mother and fertilise then with sperm from the father or a donor.
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 24 marker paternity testing.
We also test all our results twice to minimise the risk of any inaccuracies.
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.
If you have any questions, call 0333 600 1300 to find out more.
*Please note: Our sample collection service is not included in our scope of accreditation.