The Base Pair posts are a series I started to highlight professionals in medical genetics who are a stellar team or have a special history that bonds them, like genetic base pairs A, T, G, and C in a DNA double helix. This Base Pair post is about Janet and Marc Williams, a beloved pair in the world of medical genetics and genetic counseling.
I recently worked with a client who was adopted and had used a raw data file and the Promethease tool as an avenue to obtain some health/medical information for herself.
This case gets a little complicated but please stick with it; it demonstrates a lot of the areas where there is weakness in our understanding and communication of medical genetics data.
The case also highlights the importance of doing deeper investigation of findings that show up on a Promethease report, before accepting the report’s summary at face value. I write about 23andMe and Promethease in the summary, but my conclusion is true for any tool (Genetic Genie, Sequencing.com reports, etc.) run on any raw data file (AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, etc).
Megyn Kelly is a host on NBC who covers a lot of DNA topics on her weekday talk show, Megyn Kelly Today. Last week, she invited myself and a few other guests to talk about either personal or professional experiences related to DNA shocks or surprises. If you missed it, you can view the three segments below.
If you have come here as result of seeing the Megyn Kelly Today show segment on DNA shocks, welcome! I want to familiarize you with the Watershed DNA site so you can find the information you came here to look for.
Across the top of the screen (or along the right hand side, if you're on a smart phone), you will find the navigation bar. It may look like a series of three lines. If you click on it, a menu of tabs will appear.
I started a few secret support groups that were discussed here in an article by Sarah Zhang, writer for The Atlantic. I originally started these groups for a friend and some clients who expressed a desire for support and understanding from others who who had been in their shoes before. Since then, the groups have grown to include people who have heard about the group via word of mouth, past blog posts, and interviews I've given in which I've discussed them.
I've gotten some questions about how to approach an unexpected DNA match and try to open up the lines for communication. I've posted some draft language here for you to get a sense of what I've written or advised other people to write in the past.
It was a pleasure to speak with Scott Fisher of the Extreme Genes podcast! We discussed family DNA surprises that people are finding out about when they use at-home testing. Scott invited me on to talk about this as this is a subject close to him -- he once had to share the shocking news with a friend that her DNA results suggested the father who raised her was not her biological father.
Check out episode 249 to hear our discussion and understand more about how Watershed DNA came to be and how I help people who have gotten DNA surprises after an at-home test.
I received an email recently from someone searching for support. Her email read:
“I found out three years ago that my husband has an adult daughter. She contacted him and they began what I refer to as their “lovefest”. I searched and searched for information about this. There’s plenty of support for adoptees and birth parents, but none for other family members.”
I recently spoke with a gentleman who was shocked to find out at age 78 that his two adult children did not match him genetically. It was an unexpected finding that rocked his world and enraged not only himself but also his two children.
"We did not need this, we just did this 23andMe thing for fun," the man explained to me over the phone.
I came across this website and think it provides a great introduction to the different ancestry test options. This would be a great place to start if your main question is, "Which company should I choose to test with?" Check it out!
If you still have questions or want advice specific to your situation, consider scheduling a session with me to talk about your needs. I can direct you to the right test, whether for ancestry purposes or medical/health ones.
Do you know or belong to a group who might like to have a certified genetic counselor speak about 23andMe or another particular topic related to at-home genetic testing? I have a part-time private practice specializing in at-home testing and am available to give this type of live video chat to your group.