What is a Maternity DNA Test?

Who Needs a DNA Maternity Test?

What is DNA Maternity Test and under what circumstances would someone want one?  A DNA maternity test is a laboratory test in which the genetic material (DNA) of an alleged mother and child is analyzed to determine the likelihood that the tested woman is the biological mother of the child.  Conclusive results regarding maternity can be achieved through this type of DNA testing.  Each of us receives half of our DNA (half of our genes) from our biological mother and the other half of our DNA from our biological father.  In a maternity DNA test, we are asking the question, “Does the alleged mother’s DNA contain the genes that the child inherited (or possibly inherited) from its biological mother?”  If the alleged mother does not possess these genes, then she is excluded (ruled out) as the biological mother and the probability of maternity will be 0%.  If the alleged mother does possess these genes, then she is not excluded (not ruled out) as the biological mother and the probability of maternity will usually be more than 99.9%.

While testing the biological mother in a paternity test is advantageous, testing the biological father in a maternity test is typically not performed or recommended.  The main reason for this is that, if the maternity of a child is in question, then it is unlikely that the paternity of the child is certain.  As with paternity and other family relationship DNA tests, the samples collected and tested for a maternity analysis are almost exclusively buccal (cheek) swabs.

Situations Requiring a DNA Maternity Test

There are several situations where a DNA maternity test may be necessary or beneficial.  The most common types of maternity cases that we handle include:

  • Immigration.  DNA maternity testing for immigration purposes is typically requested by U.S. citizens who are sponsoring their biological mother or child in an immigrant visa, citizenship or passport application and who have been requested by U.S. immigration authorities to provide additional evidence of their biological relationship.  As an AABB-accredited facility, LB Genetics is approved by the U.S Department of State and USCIS to provide DNA testing for U.S. Immigration purposes.
  • Native American tribal membership.  To accept an individual as a blood member—and thus to qualify them for tribal benefits—many Native American tribes require scientific proof that the individual is the biological child of an existing member.  Maternity DNA testing is very commonly requested for this purpose, even when other medical records, including the child’s birth certificate, state that the existing member is the child’s biological mother.
Maternity DNA Test
  • Surrogacy.  A surrogate mother is a woman who carries and gives birth to a child for another person or couple.  The surrogate mother may be the biological mother of the child (known as traditional surrogacy, which is performed by artificial insemination of the surrogate mother with the sperm of an intended father), or she may be unrelated to the child (known as gestational surrogacy, which is accomplished through in vitro fertilization [IVF] of the eggs of the intended mother with sperm of the intended father, and subsequent implantation of the fertilized embryos into the surrogate’s uterus).  In traditional surrogacy cases, maternity testing is usually unnecessary due to the nature of the procedure. In gestational surrogacy cases, however, it is important to perform maternity DNA testing make sure that the child’s biological mother is the intended mother and not the surrogate mother (due to natural conception) or another egg donor (due to a mix-up at the laboratory or medical facility).  With both traditional and gestational surrogacy cases, it is also important to perform paternity testing to make sure that child’s biological father is the intended father and not the husband/boyfriend of the surrogate mother (due to natural conception) or an another sperm donor (due to a mix-up at the laboratory or clinic).  DNA testing for surrogacy cases is usually performed after the child is born, although prenatal testing can also be performed.
  • Hospital Baby Switches.  Occasionally, a mother, family member, or hospital staff member suspects that a mix-up in the maternity ward may have occurred.  A DNA maternity test between the mother(s) and child(ren) involved is performed to confirm maternity.
  • Adoption Reunification.   In these cases, an adopted child who believes they may have located their birth mother can confirm if this is indeed true.
  • International Adoption.  In these cases, a couple is seeking to adopt a child who is a citizen of another country.  In certain countries or situations in which adoption fraud or corruption is suspected or has been historically observed, maternity DNA testing may be required to confirm that the woman who is willingly putting a child up for adoption is indeed the child’s biological mother.

For more information about our maternity DNA tests, please call us today at +1-714-648-0468.

 By: Dr. John Taddie