Before you use that DNA kit you just unwrapped....

You and thousands of people may find yourselves unwrapping a package of shiny paper and inside of it, a DNA kit! Maybe you were hoping for one and asking for it, maybe it is a surprise that came out of left field.

Regardless, think of these things first!

The terms of service and privacy policy each DNA testing company must have have all the info you need, but they aren’t exciting to read. So I’ll break it down for you here:

  • Some companies plan to sell your de-identified genetic data and health survey results for profit or will turn it over to researchers or pharma. Are you okay with this?

  • Some people discover family secrets as a result DNA testing, like a hidden adoption in the family or somebody not matching a parent as a biological child. How would you and family react to this type of surprise?

  • Some people have discovered that family lore or suspected ethnicity differs from what the DNA shows. How might you feel if a DNA result raises questions about the genealogical truths that have been passed down through your family?

  • The majority of DNA testing evaluates only a tiny fraction of a person’s entire genome (sometimes as little as 0.02% of it, in fact). Do you know what type of genetic technology is being used by the company you’re ordering a kit from, or how much of your DNA sequence is being taken into account?

  • DNA results in the medical setting undergo intense scrutiny and must meet rigorous standards of accuracy and usefulness. At-home tests don’t have to meet these same standards, and recurrent issues with at-home DNA results have come to light. Do you understand the extent of limitations for the test you are ordering?

  • Impact of DNA results on the ability get different types of insurance in the future is a common concern, and the legal protections and potential risks are moving targets. How will you know if the benefits will outweigh the risks for you?

Consider speaking with me before you send back the kit. Even if you don’t get a surprise or a shocking result, it’s good to know these things going in beforehand.