New procedure during pregnancy may help mothers claim child support

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by Sybil Hoffman

azfamily.com

Posted on July 30, 2012 at 9:45 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 30 at 11:00 PM

PHOENIX -- What began as a mission to identify Down syndrome and other birth defects has evolved into cutting-edge technology helping many expecting moms.

A Valley mother who requested anonymity said, "My entire pregnancy I was stressed out, I didn't know what to do, I was really unsure about everything."

She credits technology under way in a lab located on the other side of the country for changing her life. When she discovered she was pregnant with her second child, she wasn't sure it was the same man who fathered her daughter.

"They kept switching my due date back and forth, which messed with the conception date," she said.

As a result, she contemplated putting her son up for adoption, "because of laws you do have to tell the birth father that you are putting the baby up for adoption."

Identifying the father of her son before he was born was critical. But until recently, only an amniocentesis or another test called CVS could answer that question. Unfortunately, both carry risks to the mother and unborn child.

"The main difference is that this is much safer," said Dr. Ravinder Dhallan, CEO of Ravgen.

Dhallan invented technology that can distinguish fetal and maternal DNA. The testing can identify the father as early as eight weeks into pregnancy.

"A lot of the cases that come to us are women who know exactly who the father is but they need to prove it to him because he's not taking responsibility," Dhallan said. "In fact we want to call it a responsibility test rather than a paternity test to take the stigma away from it."

The test is non-invasive. Just a simple blood draw from mom and then, "We separate out the DNA sequence of the mother and the baby and then we compare it to the potential father. If the prospective father is the true father, it will be a perfect match."  

For this Valley mom, the tests proved her children don't share the same father, but now she has documentation to make better decisions on everything from child support to obtaining medical histories.

"We find many of these families come together because they do want to be involved they just want to, in our society, just have some proof," Dhallan said.

Ravgen is located in Columbia, Md. For additional information about Ravgen, visit www.ravgen.com or call 410-715-2111.
 

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