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New paternity tests might spawn early child support

A new paternity test that can be used earlier in pregnancy might make it easier to identify a father who can pay child support. The tests are not as invasive as others tried in the past, although they also bring some challenges.

The new blood tests can reportedly determine paternity by the eighth or ninth week of pregnancy. Unlike other tests, it would not require a risky procedure that could possibly cause a miscarriage.

It's believed that if a father learns early on that he is for sure the baby's dad, he may be more likely to support the mother during the pregnancy and birth. And if the tests eventually can be used for legal purposes, mothers could potentially pursue legal action for child support payments before the child is born. Currently, costs relating to pregnancy rest solely with the mother if the identity of the father is unknown.

The tests only require a blood sample from the expectant mother and the presumed father. The blood is then analyzed for fragments of DNA from the fetus. Most of the time, a doctor does not even need to be involved in the testing.

The AABB, formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks, is the certifying agency for child custody cases. It is currently debating whether to certify such prenatal blood tests.

Currently about 50 percent of babies born to mothers under 30 are born out of wedlock.

Source: Star Tribune, "New paternity tests work early in pregnancy," Andrew Pollack, June 19, 2012

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