General Information

Genetic Sexual Attraction - a couple’s story going viral as a result of a 23andMe test discovery

Genetic Sexual Attraction - a couple’s story going viral as a result of a 23andMe test discovery

A story was posted a few days ago on Reddit by someone claiming to have discovered he and his girlfriend are half-siblings, the discovery coming after both opted in to the DNA Relatives feature for their 23andMe test.

Both reportedly knew they were donor-conceived and were on the hunt for their paternal biological families, but apparently neither was suspecting the possibility they may have come from the same sperm donor. The discovery was reportedly and understandably traumatic, with the relationship being ended same-day and temporary thoughts of suicide mentioned by the writer of the Reddit post.

"I think I figured out my father isn't my father, but I don't know what to do now."

"I think I figured out my father isn't my father, but I don't know what to do now."

If you’re searching the web because your DNA test results have totally taken you aback, I am so sorry you are going through this. Ancestry tests work like paternity testing, in that they are able to detect whether or not you are matching to close biological family correctly or not. The results can be confusing, especially to someone not familiar with the way ancestry test results are displayed.

If your results just came back today and someone you are expecting to see in your match list isn’t there, first of all give it a few days - make sure the testing company’s system has had a chance to finish working through and matching you to their large database of other testers. Sometimes you just need a little more time for all your DNA matches to show up properly.

“Pharmaco-Whaat?! Understanding pharmacogenomic testing and how it could aid your doctor in prescribing medication

“Pharmaco-Whaat?! Understanding pharmacogenomic testing and how it could aid your doctor in prescribing medication

Many of us take medications to stay healthy and treat conditions such as depression and cardiovascular disease. However, some people respond differently to some medicines, and part of that difference is due to our genetic makeup. Genetic tests that identify and characterize these variations are available, and you may be wondering if those tests are a good idea for you. Here are some points to consider:

CRISPR in the news - The first gene-edited babies have been born

CRISPR in the news - The first gene-edited babies have been born

The relatively-new genetic editing technology CRISPR is in the news this week.

The first report of gene-edited babies has come out, reported by a researcher in China who was trained and degreed at a university in the United States. Here’s a Slate article with more details if you haven’t heard about this breaking story yet. This Vox article gives a 101 intro to CRISPR.

CRISPR is a technology that uses a specially-designed protein with a short DNA segment attached to it to intentionally break a gene so that it doesn’t work and replace a region of DNA.

How to test your DNA (even if you've had a stem cell transplant)

How to test your DNA (even if you've had a stem cell transplant)

What happens to DNA when someone has a stem cell transplant?

Some people have had a stem cell transplant using their own stem cells. This type of transplant does not have any impact on DNA and DNA test results. Organ transplants also do not appear to impact DNA results, even though the organ has come from a different person whose DNA differs from you.

Those who have had stem cell transplants in which they’ve received a stem cell donation from another person run into challenges when having a DNA test on blood or saliva. After transplant, the white blood cells circulating through the body contain the DNA of the stem cell donor because the blood-producing cells of the bone marrow have been replaced by the donor’s. Red blood cells are essentially sacks of hemoglobin and don’t contain DNA, so only white blood cells are the issue.

GEDmatch & the Are Your Parents Related tool: What it means if you see a lot of blue

GEDmatch is a free website with tools that enable genealogists to use DNA and family trees to search for relatives. It has been in the news lately because it has recently been used to to identify criminal suspects. Tracing individuals based on their relatives DNA and family trees are only part of what GEDmatch allows DNA researchers to do. Other tools are available on GEDmatch, including one called "Are Your Parents Related?" (AYPR, for short). 

Making Your Existence Known to Bio Family - Should You or Shouldn't You?

Making Your Existence Known to Bio Family - Should You or Shouldn't You?

I had someone reach out to me a few months ago who was adopted and had reunited with his birth mom before she died after she sought him out. He never had interest in seeking out and reuniting with his birth father but accidentally matched to his (now deceased) bio father's family (an entire set of half-siblings) when doing an ancestry DNA test.

DNA Testing: Ten Tips for Adoptive Parents

DNA Testing: Ten Tips for Adoptive Parents

I’ve spoken with a few parents of children who were adopted, and DNA testing is clearly on the radar for many of these families. News reports and TV shows that highlight adoption reunions facilitated by DNA and health discoveries from genetic research have piqued the interest of many.

I’ve compiled ten tips for adoptive parents based on common questions and issues. The focus is on parents of children under the age of 18, but these points can apply to other families as well, such as those who included egg, sperm, or embryo donation in building their family.

Digging Deeper into a Promethease Finding Before Accepting It as Truth

Digging Deeper into a Promethease Finding Before Accepting It as Truth

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).

Orientation to the Watershed DNA Website

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. 

Confidential online support groups for DNA surprises

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.