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.
June is Alzheimer's Awareness month which seems an appropriate time for an updated post on Alzheimer's disease.
I've compiled resources about Alzheimer's disease genetic testing into one place (see the bottom of this post). I'm also including some direction on how to involve a genetic counselor when you prepare to open your 23andMe report on late-onset Alzheimer's disease risk (or a third-party report run on a raw data file, like Promethease).
Panic doesn't have to be part of the equation if you find out you have an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
The advice and resources included below can help reduce or stop the panic before it has a chance to start.
If you haven't worked with a genetic counselor before, a genetic counselor is a great partner to have when you are deciding to have DNA testing or at the point of learning DNA results that could have a profound effect on your outlook for the future.
I can speak for all genetic counselors when I say we aren't trying to keep you from your genetic information. We aren't trying to meddle with your rights or get between you and knowledge about yourself. Genetic counselors know you can handle what you find out.
It's our job to get you the correct information and help you locate support you when you need it.
After your results are back but before you open your Alzheimer's risk report, consider finding a genetic counselor to have on call. Schedule an appointment with them*, and open your report together with your genetic counselor on the phone or over video chat.
*Ways to do that include scheduling with me here or someone else in the Genome Medical network here* or searching for someone located near you here. Watershed DNA and Genome Medical services available only to U.S. residents at this time.
You'll have instant access to information, support, and next-steps if you find out you carry an elevated risk of late-onset Alzheimer's disease. If you find out your risk does not appear to be elevated, you can use the rest of the time with your genetic counselor to review your family and personal medical history.
Your genetic counselor can explain other types of testing that might fit your needs.
It might be carrier screening if you're planning a family, or a proactive genetic screen if you're healthy but curious about future risks. Diagnostic testing might be what you need if you already have a medical condition or health symptoms.
A one-time appointment with a genetic counselor -- whether you're having unexplained medical issues or are healthy without any specific genetic concerns -- can set you on the right path. At-home DNA tests merely skim the surface.
Find a genetic counselor to be your partner, and keep learning about the different tests available. Some DNA tests are medical-grade and some are not, so make sure you've taken the right one.
Learning about your genetic risks can be empowering if you know what to do with the information you learn.
Your Alzheimer's risk report might be ready and waiting for you, but don't feel pressured to open it right away. Read some of these articles, then look for a genetic counselor to have on the line, if it feels right to you.
Watershed DNA blog post: Should you do a home DNA test for Alzheimer's?
Watershed DNA blog post: Need help fighting the urge to open your Alzheimer's disease risk report?
Watershed DNA blog post by guest writer Jamie Fong: Alzheimer's disease - key points
apoe4.info article: Thinking about testing? APOE4.info is a support organization founded and operated by individuals who have found out they carry an elevated risk of Alzheimer's disease based on genetic results. Not all of the content on the site has been developed or reviewed by medical/genetics providers and researchers. Check with your doctor before you make changes based on what you read on the site.
Article from the Philadelphia Inquirer - highlights one person's experience learning about her elevated Alzheimer's risk and advice and resources for others
Readers who are in the age range of 60-75 years old, you have a chance to help make a difference for your children and grandchildren by enrolling in the Generation Program. There are some particular criteria for participants, so read more here to find out if you're eligible.
Click here to schedule your session with Brianne Kirkpatrick, MS, LCGC.
A few months ago, I wrote about the DNA Quest program for adoption-related DNA searches going on at MyHeritage. They have closed the program to new enrollees at this time but may open again in the future as additional resources become available. Here's a guest post I wrote for their blog with my five top tips for an adoption-related search. You might be surprised that some of them are DNA-related and some are not!
Cast a wide net
Prepare for the unexpected
Explore all your options for matching
Identify people and resources to support you along the way
Seek out an adoption-competent counselor
Read more details about each of these tips here on the MyHeritage blog!