Near perfect baby-daddy detection

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We ve recently discussed new diagnostic technologies that allow for noninvasive testing for genetic disorders within the first trimester of a pregnancy. Now, research just published in the New England Journal of Medicine explains how the same technology can be used to establish paternity as early as the eighth week of gestation.

Researchers at Ravgen Diagnostics in Columbia, Md. have developed the technique of isolating fetal DNA in a maternal blood sample and matching it with the father s DNA. In the researchers test of 30 blood samples, they were able to correctly identify paternity in every case.

This new technique, whether used to identify paternity or to diagnose Down syndrome, is preferable to older methods such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling both of which are invasive and confer a slight risk of miscarriage or infection. Furthermore, being able to establish paternity within the first trimester of a pregnancy can have important legal and medical ramifications.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom is impressed with the elegance of the new technique: They used a fairly simple method to solve a difficult problem, he says. DNA sequencing and detection have certainly come a long way.