Most of us have seen commercials on tv or ads on line about genetic DNA testing. But how are these tests conducted and what can they tell you? Let’s take a look at some common questions surrounding DNA genetic testing.
1. How is the test carried out?
Once you get your DNA test kit, you just need to swab your cheek with a cotton swab or scrape your cheek with a scraper and send it back to the company in a sealed package provided by the company. They’ll analyze the test to generate a report usually within a few weeks. Your results will be sent to you in an email and you can review them online.
2. How accurate are the results?
That varies and unfortunately, there’s no one answer. By looking at specific markers that are most relevant to tracing ancestry, you will receive the most likely estimation about where you come from. Genealogical testing is never 100% accurate because to do that, would require DNA information on your family members going back thousands of years. By using statistical information, observing patterns and understanding history, you will receive a response that is mostly correct.
Also, shared DNA decreases the further you go down the family tree, so the accuracy of results declines as well. For instance, you’ll have a more accurate result with parents and siblings than you would with 3rd, 4th and 5th cousins.
3. Will it tell you if you’re going to live a long life?
No. DNA testing can’t predict life spans or tell you what, if any, diseases you will experience in your life. The home dna test kits aren’t designed to diagnose or predict illness or disease. They are more about tracing your history and ancestry.
4. Can you trace both sides of your family?
That depends on the company doing the testing. At some, if you’re male, the test can trace both your maternal and paternal ancestry. If you’re female, you don’t have the Y chromosome that’s needed to trace paternal ancestry, so you’ll only see your mother’s side of the family. If you have a brother, you might ask him to do it as well so you can see the paternal side.
5. What does the DNA testing company do with the results?
They analyze your results to see if you are a match with other people in their databases and store your information for comparison to other samples. Some companies allow you to search for your relatives directly through their websites so you can find someone who shares some of your own dna.
6. Is my identity out there for anyone to see?
No, your sample is not stored with your personal information attached to it. You control who sees your results and you can have your sample destroyed and information removed from the database at any time.
If you’re trying to trace your family tree, a dna genetic test is a great place to start. You’ll receive the best estimation of your bio-geographical profile which will allow you to dig deeper into your roots.