Sales of home DNA testing kits are a billion-dollar industry and the figure is projected to increase tenfold in as many years. Below we explore what purposes DNA testing serves. We also offer tips on how to choose a DNA testing company so that you get the best value for your dollar.
The Testing Kit
The components of a home testing kit can vary because the kits are purpose specific ie; determining ancestry, paternity, predisposition to illnesses etc. In general, the contents of testing kits include a cotton swab, a vial holding a solution to protect the DNA during shipping, instructions, and a return shipping packaging.
Choosing A Kit
It pays to perform some due diligence before purchasing a home DNA testing kit. Especially when you consider that the average price of a kit is about $100.00. With a cheaper kit, you may be trading accuracy for savings. My research revealed that all of the highly ranked DNA testing companies offer sales, coupons, or discount codes.
How do you find the best kits? The answer is, of course, the internet. There are multiple sites that rate companies offering home DNA testing kits usually focusing on the top three or five companies.
Mistakes to Avoid
A big advertising budget doesn’t mean a DNA testing company offers quality service. Saturation advertising can create the false impression that a testing company is number one kit with consumers. Conversely, not every testing company that advertises heavily is to be mistrusted.
DNA testing is 99.99% accurate. You must understand that there is a difference between accuracy and pinpoint accuracy. A test may be accurate in determining what continents you ancestors came from, but it may not pinpoint the exact region of that continent. Be sure you understand what the test will reveal.
DNA Testing and Health
DNA testing companies, like 23andMe, have been allowed by the FDA to offer a test for genetic markers that indicate a possible predisposition to breast or ovarian cancer. This opens the possibility for other testing companies to offer tests that check for gene mutations that may cause other diseases. This has prompted a debate within the medical community about the benefits and risks of such tests. If you purchase one of these tests discuss the results with an MD or genetic counselor.
The DNA / Genealogy Connection
The genetic sequencing contained in parents’ Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is replicated in their offspring’s DNA. If a person of Asian descent has a child with someone of Northern European descent the genetic code that determines the physical characteristics of both races will be contained in the child’s DNA. If that child has a child with someone whose people came from Africa that child’s DNA will carry the genetic coding from its parents and grandparents and so on. It is the perpetuation of genetic coding that makes it possible to trace your lineage using DNA.