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All about prenatal DNA testing

Paternity tests are routinely performed after a baby is born to determine the child’s biological father. This involves taking a sample of the baby’s DNA along with the parents’. Prenatal DNA testing (or prenatal paternity testing) is a DNA test while pregnant. This means it is a method of identifying whether a man is a baby’s father before the baby is born.

A baby inherits DNA from both of its parents. Prenatal paternity tests can identify if a man is the father of a baby by looking at three samples containing:

  • the man’s DNA
  • the pregnant woman’s DNA, and
  • the unborn baby’s DNA

Consent is needed from both the man and the pregnant woman for the prenatal test to be performed.

Our prenatal DNA test is different

Our prenatal DNA test is a paternity test when pregnant and can accurately determine paternity of a baby before birth. It is a non invasive method: blood and mouth swabs are the only samples needed.

There is no risk to the mother or the unborn child when taking this test. It works by analysing the baby’s DNA that is found within the mother’s bloodstream and can be performed as early as 8 weeks after conception (or 10 weeks after the last period). A simple blood sample is all that is needed from the mother. There is no need to sample embryonic fluid making this test 100% safe for the unborn child. There are also no side effects and no risk of miscarriage.

The alleged father’s sample involves just a mouth swab to collect DNA from his cheek cells.

Results of the prenatal DNA test can be made available in 10–12 working days for £999, or our express service for an additional £200 can get your results back to you in just 5–7 working days.

How are the samples collected?

A blood sample collection from the pregnant woman can be performed by a nurse or phlebotomist at your local medical practice. Alternatively, we can arrange for one of our highly-trained sample collectors to take your sample from any convenient location. Two blood samples are needed: one for the mother’s sample and one for the baby’s. These samples are time sensitive and need to be returned to our testing laboratory as soon as possible after being collected to avoid the breakdown of red cells (haemolysis), which can have an effect on the laboratory results. For this reason, we would advise that you use an AlphaBiolabs’ trained sample collector.

For the alleged father’s sample, we provide swabs that need to rubbed firmly on the inside of both cheeks for at least 20 seconds. DNA can be extracted from these check (buccal) cells at our laboratory. The man’s sample does not need to be collected at the same location as the woman’s; a sample collector can visit any convenient location. However, the samples should be collected around the same time to avoid any delays (as discussed above).

Our nationwide Walk in Centres are another option where both blood samples and mouth swabs can be collected at the same time. As well as being more convenient, this could help save you money on collection fees.

How does the test work?

Using state-of-the-art equipment, the baby’s DNA is separated from the mother’s DNA in the blood sample using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) microarray technology. DNA from the father’s sample is extracted from the swabs.

By examining the baby’s DNA together with the parents, it is possible to identify which half of the DNA is inherited from the mother and which half is from the father.

If the tested man is indeed the biological father of the baby, both will share DNA. When the tested man is not the biological father there will be differences in the DNA of the man and the baby.

Getting your results

The analysis required in prenatal DNA testing is very complex, hence it takes 10–12 days for the results to be emailed over to you. A faster 5–7-day service is also available for an additional £200 fee.

We provide at least 99.9% probability of paternity where the father is confirmed as being the biological father. If there is insufficient DNA in any of the samples to get a conclusive result then the sample collecting procedure may need to be repeated. Confidentiality is maintained throughout the process.

Order your test online by clicking here or call AlphaBiolabs on 0333 600 1300

FAQs

How do I order a prenatal DNA test?

You can order your test here and one of our consultants will be in touch to arrange your sample collections.

Alternatively, you can call our Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email info@alphabiolabs.com. We can talk you through the process and outline the next steps.

Is a sample needed from the alleged father?

Yes. We need samples from both the mother and alleged father.

Can the samples be collected at different locations?

The samples do not need to be collected at the same location. However, the samples should be collected around the same time to avoid any delays and the risk of the blood samples haemolysing. 

What samples are needed?

Two mouth swabs are needed from the alleged father and two samples of blood from the mother.

What are the options for sample collection?

The blood samples are time sensitive and need to be collected by a trained nurse or phlebotomist, or an AlphaBiolabs sample collector. The mouth swabs also ideally need to be collected by an AlphaBiolabs sample collector. Both of these samples can be collected at the same time, or separately, at one of our nationwide Walk in Centres.  

What if a re-collection is required?

If the blood or mouth swabs have insufficient DNA then an appointment can be arranged to re-collect any samples.

How early can the test be performed?

This non invasive prenatal test can be carried out as early as 8 weeks after conception (or 10 weeks after the last period).

Can the test harm the baby?

There is no risk to the unborn child when taking this test. Non invasive prenatal testing uses a simple blood sample from the mother and therefore does not require a needle to be inserted into the womb.

What are the risks?

There is no risk to your baby other than the normal risk to the mother of having a blood sample taken.

Why should invasive procedures be avoided?

To gain a sample of an unborn baby’s DNA, a sample of amniotic fluid from the womb can be collected by inserting a needle through the abdomen: this procedure is called amniocentesis. This amniotic fluid contains cells from the baby that can be analysed. Alternatively, a sample of tissue from the placenta can be collected by passing a needle through the wall of the abdomen, or by passing a small tube (catheter) through the vagina and the neck of the womb (cervix): this procedure is called chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Both of these invasive methods incur a slight risk to the unborn child, with a 1% chance of miscarriage with CVS and a 0.5% chance of miscarriage for an amniocentesis.

What are the chances of getting a result?

We provide at least 99.9% probability of paternity where the father is confirmed as being the biological father. The result will therefore be a yes, no, or insufficient sample, which will necessitate a re-collection.

In cases where there is insufficient foetal DNA present in the sample, we advise that the mother waits a further 2 weeks before providing another blood sample. In some cases, foetal DNA never reaches a sufficient level for successful testing.  

When will I get the results?

Results can be made available in 10–12 working days, or our express service can get your results back to you in just 5–7 working days (for an additional fee).

How much does the prenatal DNA test cost?

Results can be made available in 10–12 working days for £999. An express service to get your results back in just 5–7 working days is also available for an additional £200.