Everything You Need to Know About DNA Testing at Home
Everything You Need to Know About DNA Testing at Home
Although excellent at-home DNA testing services for paternity have been available to consumers online and even at retail stores for years, it is the broader appeal of ancestry testing—coupled with millions of dollars in advertising—that has caused home DNA kits to go mainstream. So how does a home DNA test work? There are so many today, and they’re actually more different than you think! Here are answers to popular questions to keep in mind before you buy.
Q: What is a Home DNA Test?
How does a Home DNA Test Work?
A: As its name implies, a home DNA test is something anyone can do in the comfort of their own living room. It’s important to remember that the “home” part refers to DNA collection only—the DNA extraction and analysis portions of the test are always performed by professionals in a laboratory.
There are a few misconceptions about DNA testing, like how long it takes. So many of us have watched CSI shows that we think results come back in a matter of hours. The truth is, that’s TV and this is real-life science, and that science takes time. Depending on what type of test you’re doing, turnaround time varies from 24 hours to eight (8) weeks, so be prepared to wait once you submit samples.
Q: How Does a Home DNA Test Differ from Other Types?
A: You can purchase DNA tests at drugstores or order them directly from a laboratory or through a doctor’s office. So how do these tests differ from a home DNA test or are they the same thing?
DNA Tests at Drugstores
DNA tests purchased at a drugstore or at a superstore are all at-home tests. You pay for the kit containing DNA-collection materials, and then usually pay a separate fee once you are ready to have the test performed and submit the samples you collected at home.
DNA Tests Ordered Directly through a Lab or at the Doctor’s Office
Through a Lab
Sometimes, there is some crossover between a DNA test purchased at a drugstore and one ordered directly from a lab. Some labs (like the one that offers the HomeDNA brand) offers consumer the option to buy the same tests either at the store or directly from the lab, but the tests are exactly the same. Results for a home paternity test purchased at the store are not court-admissible, but if you purchase directly from the lab, you have the option to purchase a legal paternity test instead for an extra fee, and results from that type of test can be used in court.
Through a Doctor
DNA samples for health-related tests offered through a doctor are collected in the office and submitted to the lab for testing. These tests are comprehensive and genetic counseling is also offered as part of the service, and so the cost is substantially higher than the price tag for a home DNA test. Some tests offered through a doctor, like a skin-care DNA test, are available in similar at-home versions through companies like HomeDNA.
Q: How is a Home DNA Test Performed?
A: Depending on what type of test you’re doing and which company you’re testing with, samples submitted for a home DNA test can be saliva, cheek swabs, or blood drops.
Can a Home DNA test be performed on people of all ages?
Some companies that do DNA testing require that participants be at least 18 years of age or older to participate, and others allow testing for minors as long as signed consent is given by their parents.
Q: How Accurate is a Home DNA Test?
A: With the exception of paternity testing, the accuracy of most home tests relies greatly on the number and types of genes that are examined as part of the test, as well as the algorithm (formula) used to calculate results.
Q: What Can a Home DNA Test Reveal?
A: Specific lifestyle DNA tests can tell you a lot about yourself and improve your quality of life. Ancestry tests are probably the best known lifestyle tests, but there are other options too. For example,a skin-care DNA test can give you info from a cellular level about your skin's collagen quality, elasticity, antioxidant levels, and more, that you can use to determine the most effective topical skincare products for your precise genetic makeup.
There are also tests that are designed to help you reach your ideal weight; this type of analysis provides info from your DNA about your body's response to different types of exercise as well as your genetic response to nutrients. A test for food sensitivities can help you determine if your DNA predisposes you to potential problems with gluten, lactose, eggs, peanuts, and more. You can even get DNA tests for pets, since they’re part of the family too. With so many to choose from, the possibilities for learning more about yourself and your loved ones are practically endless.
Q: Why Should People Purchase from HomeDNA?
A: You’re busy—we get it—that’s why you can find HomeDNA at a store near you or buy online 24/7 with free shipping all the time.
Collecting your DNA is so easy—just use a simple cheek swab, drop in a mailbox (the postage is on us, of course), and we’ll take care of the rest.
Our laboratory team (yes, we really are the lab, unlike other DNA companies) will email you when your sample arrives. We also notify you when results are posted to your secure online account.
Worried about your private information? Don’t be—we never (ever, ever) sell your DNA results to third parties, and we destroy your DNA sample (unlike others that store it forever).
Where to buy HomeDNA Tests
Pick up a kit at select CVS locations, ShopKo, any Walgreens location, or at your local independent pharmacy. You can also order online at HomeDNA.com.