At-home DNA testing offers a convenient and discreet way to get the results you need or to fill in some of the gaps around your family history. But many people have concerns about the reliability of at-home tests, wondering if they offer the same level of certainty as an in-person visit to the clinic. We explore this issue below to help you make the best choice for your personal circumstances.

How Does Home Testing Work?

To start with, let’s have a look at how most home DNA-testing kits work. Usually, a sample kit will be sent to your home address that contains everything you need along with easy-to-follow instructions. You’ll be asked to take a cheek swab – these are painless – using the equipment sent, and then mail this back to the lab. Upon receipt of this, the lab will undertake the required testing, and your results will be mailed or emailed to you.

What Are They Used For?

There are many different reasons that you may be considering ordering a home DNA test; you may wish to find out more about your family or ethnic background out of curiosity, perhaps you’re researching your family tree, or would like to know the risk factors you have for developing certain inherited diseases or conditions so that you can take the lifestyle steps necessary to optimize your chances of remaining healthy.

Some DNA tests are available that screen for a predisposition to specific conditions, such as cystic fibrosis or ovarian cancer. The prices for these tests can vary significantly, depending on the disease being tested for.

For some people, at-home DNA testing is a discreet way to ascertain paternity where this is in question. Have a look here for more information on the best at-home paternity test depending on your circumstances; you’ll find details in this article, including the services that the various organizations offer, the speed with which you can expect to get the results and the prices of each. If you need paternity testing as part of legal proceedings, then it’s vital to make sure that the type of test you’re ordering is permissible in a court of law.

Recently, advances in DNA testing techniques have meant that people are increasingly able to use these tests to discover more about their metabolism and how their bodies process and use different types of food. For example, certain tests can now reveal how an individual’s body reacts to protein or sugar, as well as the types of exercise that are likely to produce the best results. This can be useful as part of developing an overall plan for a healthier lifestyle or to specifically support weight loss or exercise goals.

How Reliable Are At-Home DNA Tests?

Now that we’ve looked at what a home test involves and the reasons that they’re often used, it’s time to assess their reliability so that you can decide if this is the right option for you.

Home DNA tests are advertised as being over 99% accurate, and cheek swabbing is likely to be as reliable as other methods, such as via blood collection. However, an important proviso to this is that this high level of accuracy is only possible if the test is carried out completely accurately. 

The most likely issue is contaminating your sample, and this commonly happens as a result of food that’s left in the mouth when the sample is being taken, which then finds its way onto the swab. Other contaminants are possible, too, so it’s vital to follow the kit instructions scrupulously to minimize the risk of this happening.

The other possibility that can affect reliability is the quality of the laboratory carrying out the screening. To ensure that the lab you use is professional and likely to carry out the analysis properly, take some time to research a number of at-home testing companies and read plenty of reviews from past customers, too.

And A Final Word

In most cases, it’s advisable to speak with your doctor, if possible, before ordering an at-home test. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, your doctor will be able to give you more information on the disease or condition that you are concerned about developing and also to speak with you about the likelihood of this; this may inform your decision regarding getting tested.

Further, your doctor will be able to provide you with the support and after-care you need throughout the testing process; they can discuss the results with you, help to interpret them and, if necessary, make a care plan with you. 

It’s important to be very wary of any home testing company that ties their testing service in with attempting to sell other products to you, such as vitamins or other wellness aids, as a result of what your test reveals.

And finally, it’s vital that an at-home DNA test isn’t used as a replacement for an in-person (or online) appointment with your doctor or health professional – they should be your first port of call if you have any queries or concerns regarding your health.