For women who are uncertain as to the paternity of an unborn child, genetic testing may hold the key, prenatally, to determining, on a preliminary basis, the DNA composition of a child and, therefore, identify a potential paternity basis. For many pregnant women, unsure of paternity, it is common practice to confirm paternity following delivery of the infant. However, with advances in medical technology, these same mothers-to-be can prepare for the anticipated paternal outcome of the infant, including any necessary processes with regard to preliminary legal action involving child support and visitation. One such prenatal test, known as CVS, has become increasingly popular among pregnant women who need a preliminary DNA sample for paternity purposes. Understanding the dynamics by which this prenatal test determines paternity, allows a pregnant woman with an option for addressing this, of many issues, during the gestational period.
Medically known as Chorionic Villus Sampling, CVS is a minor surgical procedure which can be done in the obstetrician’s office. As with an amniocentesis, CVS is achieved with insertion of a simple surgical needle into the uterus. However, unlike the amniocentesis, the CVS testing is achieved by way of the vaginal canal, through the cervix, accessing the uterus rather than penetration through the abdominal area. However, abdominal extraction of the chorionic villi is possible. Commonly done at the end of the first trimester, CVS testing results can provide a peak into the DNA composition of a developing fetus addressing issues not only of paternity but also of preliminary genetic birth defects. So, what are chorionic villi?
The chorionic villi are small, representative hair like tissues which are a byproduct of the fertilized egg when pregnancy occurs. Using a sampling of the chorionic villi, medical technologists can determine not only the presence of genetic birth defects and complications of an unborn child, but also compare DNA composition with DNA samples taken from potential sperm donors in an effort to determine paternity, on a preliminary basis. Using these DNA samples, medical technology can determine, with some degree of certainty, the paternity of an unborn child, allowing for both mother and father an opportunity to prepare accordingly.
As with any invasive procedure during pregnancy, the risk associated with CVS is minimal but, when complications arise, many lead to miscarriage. For this reason, obstetricians generally do not recommend CVS testing in pregnant women during the first trimester unless there is a clear foundation or basis for concern involving birth defects or litigation to paternity. Even still, with risks of miscarriage slightly greater than that of amniocentesis, many obstetricians will opt to recommend genetic counseling, coupled with amniocentesis, over the Chorionic Villus Sampling procedure during pregnancy. So, how is the DNA matched to a potential father?
Through DNA swabbing of the father’s bodily fluids, usually by saliva, the medical technologist can match the DNA sampling to the CVS and, usually, within ten days provide a pregnant women with a preliminary paternity result. For many pregnant women, however, the cost associated with such testing can be significant, leading many to choose to avoid CVS testing in lieu of DNA paternity testing following birth. As many courts of law do not recognize CVS testing, alone, in the establishment of paternity, using CVS for paternity alone, may not be a financially appropriate decision. Instead, when not faced with genetic concerns, opting to establish DNA and paternity, after birth, may be the most appropriate decision in terms of financial considerations.
As with any prenatal testing, Chorionic Villus Sampling can provide health risks to both mother and baby. The test is exhaustive, although minimally invasive, but may hold the key to addressing issues of significant concern to a pregnant woman. When faced with potential DNA and paternity issues involving a pregnancy, consider CVS testing as an option to preliminarily establish the familial boundaries of your unborn child.