AUG 20, 2017 01:54 PM PDT

How Reliable is At-Home DNA Testing?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

In early April 2017, the FDA made a historic decision to approve 10 genetic tests by 23andme for direct-to-consumer use. The ruling meant that any person curious about their personal genetic predisposition to 10 relatively well-known diseases can now do it in the comfort of their own home, sans physician referrals. Among the list of approved at-home tests are Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.

But consumers beware - the tests and the results are not always 100 percent accurate. Aside from the typical problems with user error or laboratory error, the results of these DNA tests are have limitations in their interpretations. Specifically, the laboratory only analyzes a small percentage of a consumer's DNA. Furthermore, that limited portion of DNA is compared against a limited database of DNA profiles. Consequently, the results come with many asterisks and qualifiers, which may not be accurately interpreted by a general consumer.

And accurate interpretation really matters when dealing with results for serious diseases. Although consumers now have more options for at-home genetic tests, it's still recommended that they seek help from trained genetic counselors in interpreting these results, as it relates to their health.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 12, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2019
These Hippos Have Found a Naturally Existing Spa
Hippos are large and captivating creatures; in fact, they can be so hazardous that researchers keep a safe distance, deploying spy cameras in their place t...
NOV 12, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 12, 2019
Artificial "Bug Eyes" Made of Nanoparticles and Liquid Marbles
The term compound eye refers to the unique visual organs that can be found in many insects (hence the nickname "bug eyes"), as well as certain sp...
NOV 12, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 12, 2019
How the Rosetta Mission Augmented Our Understanding of Comets
The European Space Agency (ESA) launched its Rosetta mission in 2004 to study the particularly captivating comet 67P, and after a ten-year journey, the mis...
NOV 12, 2019
Cardiology
NOV 12, 2019
Find the Motivation to Exercise with Imagery
Those involved in professional sports have a lot on their plate. From fitting in intense regular workouts to getting adequate sleep, to eating a healthy di...
NOV 12, 2019
Cardiology
NOV 12, 2019
Diagnosed With Atopic Dermatitis?
Eczema, dermatitis, atopic dermatitis: all names for the same disease of the skin. Although common in children during the first year of life, the condition...
NOV 12, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 12, 2019
What You Need to Know About NASA's Upcoming WFIRST Space Telescope
There are several space telescopes observing the cosmos at the very time of this writing, and there are plans to launch even more of them in the near futur...
Loading Comments...