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New test determines paternity at 8 weeks' gestation

Paternity tests can be important in many aspects of family law in Colorado. In the past, noninvasive paternity tests were available only after the child's birth. In divorce cases in which a woman is pregnant, this wait time can pose a significant delay in determining appropriate support. Some judges may order that increased spousal support be paid to a pregnant woman but usually only if the man is the biological father.

A new paternity test developed by a biotech company called Ravgen can determine paternity as early as eight weeks into gestation. According to the CEO of Ravgen, this test offers better than 99.9 percent certainty. However, it costs between $950 and $1,650.

In the past, DNA sampling of a fetus involved risky and costly procedures such as amniocentesis, which carries a risk of miscarriage if performed before 10 to 15 weeks of gestation. Even after 15 weeks of gestation, pregnant women are sometimes reluctant to undergo the procedure. Ravgen's paternity test takes a sample of the pregnant woman's blood, which is generally regarded as safe during pregnancy, and tests the fetal DNA present in the blood.

Child custody and divorce litigants who are seeking spousal and child support sometimes need to prove paternity, especially when there are accusations of infidelity. Assuming that courts are willing to accept this test as proof, it will help ease the burden on pregnant women in need of financial support from the biological father. And, of course, many fathers may also welcome the news.

Source: India West, "Ravgen's Test Identifies Paternity Early in Pregnancy," Avni Nijhawan, Aug. 6, 2012

Source: The New England Journal of Medicine, "A Noninvasive Test to Determine Paternity in Pregnancy," May 3, 2012

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