By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND/ODESSA- One Basin lab is now helping you find out the who the father of the child is before that child is even born. It's called prenatal DNA testing and it's far less invasive than amniocentesis.
Just nine weeks into pregnancy, a mother is able to establish paternity through a simple blood test. Results take less than a week to be returned.
Lou's Clinical Laboratory's, Guadalupe Perez, says, "We'll collect two tubes of blood from the mother and one tube from the father."
"Testers take one of the vials from the mother and they spin it and extract her DNA and then they trace that DNA back to the father so you have the DNA from the mother and DNA from the father and whatever is left over is from the baby," Lab Manager, Tamika Pride, said.
Lou's Clinical Laboratory has one office in Midland and another in Odessa. They say they're the only local company conducting this type of testing. They began using the technology about a year ago, but in the last few months their number of requests for prenatal DNA testing has risen. Their clients, we're told, are trying to clear up any confusion before a bond has formed between the child and parent-in-question.
"They want to avoid that conflict and that emotional stress," explains Perez. "We've seen a lot of people that have waited until the very end or until after the baby is born and then they're heart-broken because they find out that the child is not theirs," Pride said.
The lab attributes the recent jump in demand to increased awareness about the test, but also to the basin's population boom, which is believed to have brought with it more promiscuity.
Although the test is mostly used to establish paternity, grandparents are also taking part in it.
"Nowadays with grandparents raising kids [because] the parent is maybe missing or maybe locked up, this gives [grandparents] a way to find out if they're the true grandparents of the children," Pride said.
The cost of the testing generally runs in the hundreds and even into the thousands, but Lou's Clinical Laboratory says they'll work with clients individually to reach a financial agreement that's reasonable.