In past years, women and men in the state of Washington who questioned the paternity of a child typically had to wait until the child was actually born to definitively determine the father's identity. Today, new technology has been developed making paternity testing before a child is born easy and risk-free.
Previously, paternity could be determined prior to a child's birth only through invasion testing that posed an increased risk for miscarriage. Due to the invasiveness of the procedure and risks to the unborn child, most women opted to wait until the child was born.
Researchers are now able to accurately determine the paternity of an unborn child through a simple blood test. There are several benefits of determining paternity before a child is born. For example, knowing who the father is can greatly reduce stress for the pregnant mother who may otherwise worry to the point of risking the health of her unborn baby. Likewise, if a man knows definitively that he is the father; he may be more likely to provide emotional support to the woman.
Paternity testing of an unborn child also provides financial benefits for the woman. Previously, before the child was born and paternity could be determined, any expenses incurred during a woman's pregnancy were her responsibility. With the new test, however, the father may be more apt to provide financial support or may even be required to do so by the court.
In years to come, questions related to paternity are likely to increase as today more than 50 percent of children born to women under the age of 30 occur out of wedlock. Paternity tests of unborn children may one day also be used to help determine child custody and child support matters.
Source: The New York Times, "Before Birth, Dad's ID," Andrew Pollack, June 19, 2012