What is DNA genetic testing?
No matter who we are or where we come from, every single one of us has a unique genetic code (unless you’re an identical twin). This genetic source code is Deoxyribonucleic Acid, commonly called DNA, and by closely examining your unique DNA, specialists can extrapolate a great deal of unique and useful information.
Who needs DNA testing kits?
Potentially, everyone could need DNA testing at some point. It can be used to check for genetic disorders or inherited health conditions, paternity testing, or ancestry testing to learn more about your origins and search for family members. DNA testing has been used by historians and archaeologists to learn more about skeletons found at historic sites. For example, when the body of King Richard II was dug up in a modern parking lot, his identity was finally confirmed after DNA tests with some of his modern-day descendants.
How does DNA testing work?
A DNA test is performed on a sample provided by the customer, usually by way of a saliva sample or a cheek swab. Once in the lab, the DNA sample is examined by technicians who digitize the DNA sample and look for clues. DNA is made up of 4 building blocks known as nucleotides and most of human DNA is in the form of strands called chromosomes. There is a wealth of clues that the testing lab will look at, including your Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP). These variations in your DNA can be compared to other people’s DNA samples in order to find genes that can indicate a particular disease or genetic condition. Under close examination, your DNA sample can indicate how much your genome (your complete set of DNA/genetic material) has in common with test populations across the world, providing an assessment of your ethnic makeup.
Where can I get a DNA test?
Today there are dozens of companies selling home DNA testing kits, buoyed by the popularity of genealogy programs on TV and family research made easier by the internet and social media. Companies like Ancestry, 23andMe, and MyHeritage, sell all-in-one DNA tests that arrive at your home within days of ordering.
How much does a DNA test cost?
If you’re simply looking for a DNA ancestry test, most companies have similar prices that hover anywhere between $59 - $99 per test. With most companies, you have to factor in shipping, but shipping is often included—or at least discounted—if you order multiple tests.
Can you get a DNA test while pregnant?
A DNA ancestry test can be carried out during pregnancy without any issue. If you’re looking to establish paternity while pregnant, this can also be done with a number of companies. A prenatal DNA test can be done with a simple blood sample from the mother. The lab then extracts a DNA profile of the baby from the fetal cells in the mother's blood stream. This can be compared with a DNA test from the father in order to establish paternity.
What do ancestry DNA results look like?
On MyHeritage for instance, your results are shown in a revealing experience that jumps across the globe, showing each ethnic area one by one, with a percentage of your makeup. Whenever it bounces to a different part of the world, the platform plays music that corresponds to the region of origin, and shows you each of the different population groups in your DNA, with fun animation. With LivingDNA, you’ll receive a breakdown of your ethnicity listed by percentage and shown across a map of the world, and on 23andMe you get a very similar breakdown, shown with varying shades of ethnicities circling around the globe like a pinwheel. LivingDNA can also give you a “family ancestry visualization,” which creates a recent family ancestry average based on your DNA mix over the past 10 generations. Living DNA can also give you a “migration map” which will show you the trail that your family (maternal line and paternal line) took beginning with the origin of man in east Africa.
How trustworthy is ancestry testing?
The way the tests work is by taking your DNA and comparing it to people from regions across the world and seeing how much of it resembles the DNA of people from specific areas and to what extent. The accuracy is largely linked to how many people the company has in their database, and also how many people from a specific region of the world took the test. As LivingDNA puts it, the tests answer the question, "Which populations in the world is my [autosomal] DNA most similar to?" DNA tests— both prenatal and after birth—can unequivocally prove paternity, and can be of great assistance to parents trying to sort out issues of custody, immigration, and divorce. When it comes to ancestral breakdowns, DNA tests can take our jumbled, unclear DNA and create an easy-to-follow mosaic of our family background and where we came from. These tests can zoom out and look at our DNA and how it compares to people around the world, giving us some insight on where our families came from. You may also find some sort of confusion due to the ever-changing breakdown of nation-states throughout history.
What can you learn from a DNA test?
A DNA test can give you information about signs that indicate that you could develop some sort of genetic health condition down the road. Companies like 23andMe, which do DNA health testing, caution that these tests should not take the place of the consultation of a physician nor do they constitute a medical diagnosis. Nonetheless, they can provide some information that you can follow up. DNA tests— both prenatal and after birth—can unequivocally prove paternity, and can be of great assistance to parents trying to sort out issues of custody, immigration, and divorce. When it comes to ancestral breakdowns, DNA tests can take our jumbled, unclear DNA and create an easy-to-follow mosaic of our family background and where we came from. These tests can zoom out and look at our DNA and how it compares to people around the world, giving us some insight on where our families came from.
What about my privacy?
DNA companies are well aware of the concerns surrounding user privacy and have enacted security protocols to fight against threats to user data. Most DNA testing companies today keep customer personal information—credit card details, name, email, etc.—separate from genetic information, so that in the event of a breach they cannot be identified. These sites also promise to not lease, rent, or sell any of your information without your consent.