June 20, 2012 1:13 pm
It is an uncomfortable question that, in today’s world, is often asked by expectant mothers who had more than one male partner at the time they became pregnant. Who is the father? With more than half of births to women under 30 now out of wedlock, it is a question that may arise more often. Now blood tests are becoming available that can determine paternity as early as the eighth or ninth week of pregnancy, without an invasive procedure that could cause a miscarriage.
June 6, 2012 11:55 pm
Heralding a future in which a child’s entire genetic blueprint can be examined for traits and defects — noninvasively — long before birth, researchers have announced that they have reconstructed the whole genome of a fetus by using only a blood sample from its mother and a saliva sample from its father. The work was published today inScience Translational Medicine1.
April 30, 2012 10:42 am
The potential benefits of NIPD are many: elimination of the risks associated with amniocentesis, the replacement of aggravating probabilities with accurate information, and more time for expectant parents to make difficult decisions. But because insurance providers have an incentive to cover them, fetal DNA tests stand to be introduced before we have time to consider the slew of ethical and political challenges they will introduce.
March 9, 2012 9:47 am
A recently developed and newly released Stanford-created blood test can detect Down syndrome and two other major genetic defects at early stages of pregnancy. Experts have expressed concerns, however, about the ethics of knowing a fetus’s genetics during a period of pregnancy when abortion is both safer and more commonly legal. The $1,200 test, which analyzes fetal DNA in expectant mothers at 10 weeks, is being offered by Verinata Health — a Redwood City biotechnology company — which licensed a technique designed by Stanford biophysicist Stephen Quake.