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Paternity Testing

What is Prenatal Paternity Testing?

Prenatal Paternity Testing provides pregnant women with information about the likely biological father of the baby. We all inherit our genes from our biological parents — half from our mother, and half from our father. Prenatal Paternity Testing compares the baby’s genetic pattern to a possible biological father to determine if there is a match.

If a genetic match is found then this is proof of a biological relationship.

There are several methods of obtaining samples for paternity testing during the pregnancy. Women can choose to have an invasive procedure like chorionic villus sampling (CVS) at 11-14 weeks gestation or amniocentesis at 15-40 weeks gestation, though these tests are associated with a small risk of miscarriage following the procedure.

Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Testing

A safer option is the Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Testing. It involves DNA samples being taken from the pregnant mother and possible fathers. It is usually done via a blood test from the pregnant woman and either a blood test or cheek swab on the man. This test is over 99% accurate and can be performed from 10 weeks of pregnancy. There is no risk to the fetus.

This test does not provide any other genetic information about the fetus (e.g. gender or inherited genetic diseases). If you need that sort of prenatal diagnosis, talk to our doctor or genetic counsellor about the other tests.

Due to the technology currently used for Prenatal Paternity Testing the test cannot be performed where the pregnant woman is related to the potential father, and it is not yet reliable in twins.

How long do the Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Testing results take?

The test results will usually take 14 days to be received. On occasions there is not enough cell-free DNA from the pregnancy in the sample so blood recollection may be required; in this case the results will take another 14 days to be received but you will not have to pay twice.


As with any test you have at Ultrasound care your results are completely confidential. The specific details about how you want to receive results can be discussed further with your clinician at your appointment.

Can an exact date of conception be determined accurately?

Many women have questions about the date of conception, and unless it is an IVF pregnancy (where the date of embryo transfer is known) is not always easy. Usually if a woman has regular 28 day menstrual cycles, then she will ovulate 14 days before the next period is due. Ovulation is the time when conception can take place because that is when an egg is released.

The problem is that most women do not ovulate on exactly the same day each month. If you also take into account that sperm can live in the body 3-5 days after intercourse has taken place, this can give a wide range of possible conception dates.

Most people do not realize that ultrasounds are only accurate to +/- 5-7 days in early pregnancy and up to 3 or 4 weeks in the third trimester.

Due dates are not an accurate tool for determining conception since they also are only an estimation. Only 5% of women give birth on their estimated due date.

If you are seeking the estimated date of conception for paternity reasons, and intercourse with two different partners took place within 10 days of each other then paternity testing is the best way to be sure of who the father of the unborn baby is.

When can it be done?

Anytime after 12 weeks gestation. This is when most women have enough cell free DNA in their circulation from the pregnancy.

How much does the Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Testing cost?

All together prenatal paternity testing costs approximately $2200 to test the pregnancy and one potential father. The most expensive part is the laboratory testing fee, but this will also cover the courier cost of sending the sample to the USA, the obstetric ultrasound to ensure that the fetus is single, alive and the right size, and the consultation with the specialist.  This is not medicare claimable. 

The Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Testing is currently cheaper than invasive testing because of different laboratory fees.

Can I use the DNA test results in court?

Non Invasive Prenatal Paternity Test results are not currently admissible in court. The science is reliable but courts need to verify the chain of custody from the patient to the laboratory. This test is too new to have had the chain of custody verified.

How do I make an appointment for paternity testing?

All our doctors and genetic counsellors are happy to help you with paternity tests. Call your local Ultrasound Care practice to make an appointment.