What to Expect From At-Home Genetic Testing
By Kate Gardner
If my Facebook feed is any indication, at-home genetic testing is very popular right now. From finding out your ancestral makeup to learning how your genetics affect your health, many people are turning to these easy-to-administer genetic tests to get more information about themselves. But is this kind of genetic testing all fun and games? Since the rise in popularity of these tests, experts have been calling for people to use caution dealing with the information they are given. PBS News Hour walks us through a few of the top things you should know before you get genetic testing.
Discovering Your Ancestry
Genetic testing can give you a better idea of your ancestry and ethnicity, however, it isn't 100 percent accurate. People who come from Europe have been studied the most by geneticists, so there is more information to help identify these parts of your ancestry. There's also the chance you may receive information that contradicts what you thought you knew about your family history. It can help to keep an open mind and understand the test's limits when it comes to ancestry.
Results Aren't Cut and Dry
Genetic testing can tell you if you have markers for developing several diseases like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and clotting disorders. But, in many cases, a positive result for these markers doesn't mean you will definitely get sick. On the flip side, a negative result doesn't mean that you won't develop that disease. It's important to read the information that comes with the test to better understand your results.
Finding Something Serious
It makes sense that if you are looking at your DNA, you might find something serious. For example, you may discover that you have a genetic mutation that could be harmful if passed on to your children. If you are pursuing genetic testing because you are worried about your health or concerned about a specific disease, you may choose to speak to a healthcare provider first. Visiting a genetic counselor is an option, as well. Genetic counselors can help you understand your test results and how to deal with the information you learn.
At-home genetic testing seems to be here to stay and has the potential to give people important information about their health. Have fun, but take care when interpreting what these tests tell you.
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