If you have not yet tested, but are getting ready to, the UBC Genetic Connections Study would like you to participate in their study. They will follow your experience before and after your results come back. Website: https://delongis.psych.ubc.ca/ubc-genetic-connections-study/
The Wall Street Journal and other news sources have recently covered a new development in health care coverage and at-home DNA test sold by 22andMe. Because of its FDA-approved reports, US customers of 23andMe can request reimbursement for part of their testing. Other at-home DNA testing companies have not received FDA approval yet, so the IRS ruling only affects 23andMe testers at this time.
Grouping 23andMe test into a category with clinical genetic tests sends a mixed messages. So I am going to fill in some gaps for you…
When a new resource becomes available that I think will help my clients and the readers of my blog, I try to highlight them. This week I have three to share - one a website, one a book, and one a podcast.
Severance Magazine is a new resource for the growing group of individuals who learn they have been separated by biological relatives. You can read articles, news, connect with other resources, and share your own story through print and video. Those who will benefit included those who are adopted, donor conceived, NPE (“not the parent expected”), and the less-common situations of those who have been switched at birth, kidnapped, or abandoned as children.
I recently got this feedback on The DNA Guide for Adoptees from a reader:
“I learned a lot! Very informative and sensitive to so many things. I especially appreciated how tactfully written the high ROH chapter was (high ROH=when birth parents are related to each other). It’s a sensitive topic but was very tactfully done.
The reader continued on…
Genealogists are a creative bunch, and I love to read about the information they discover and record about family. Some genealogists track down death certificates and record the official cause of death for ancestors. Others learn medical history from living relatives and write that down. I quietly applaud when I read about someone finding and saving medical information on ancestors and relatives like this!
As a genetic counselor and genealogist, family medical history will always be an important in my eyes. This information is difficult to retrieve once relatives pass away.
There is a lot of misinformation spreading online about a gene all of us have called MTHFR. (We each have two copies it, actually: one from mom and one from dad.)
Self Magazine published an article this week specifically addressing the MTHFR gene and all the facts we know about it. It was written by Tara C. Smith, a person with a PhD in epidemiology. Epidemiology is the study of how different factors influence the health of people, and those with a PhD are trained to understand the outcome of studies at both the group level (large populations) and at the individual level (YOU!).
I read this article yesterday and feel like it is the BEST ARTICLE to date on MTHFR. It will be accessible to most readers, no matter your level of knowledge about DNA or genetics research.
One by one, women have begun to reach out to me. They describe a similar scenario.
Their husbands were unaware they had fathered a child in the past (typically, it's a daughter).
That child is now an adult.
Consumer DNA testing helped reunite the adult child with their father.
These situations involve a lot of emotions for everyone, including the adult child, the father, his wife/significant other, and other children in the family.
23andMe released a new health report this week, and it's quite a bit different from the other types of reports they've released in the past.
Most conditions that affect people (like type 2 diabetes) are complex in origin, meaning that even if it's "genetic," it's not necessarily easily-tested by DNA. This is due to reasons such as polygenic factors being influenced by environmental factors (diet, smoking, exercise, etc.). Polygenic refers to the fact that there can be dozens - if not hundreds or THOUSANDS - of genetic factors involved, each one having only a tiny impact on overall risk.
This is what you'll eventually see if you keep scrolling down your 23andMe report, and it's important to read and understand these things before you take anything away from your diabetes risk as reported by 23andMe. It’s important to know what a DNA test can’t tell you, as much as what it can.
Interested in reading more about this topic?
This article in MIT Technology Review brings some good points to the discussion.
This article by Jeanette McCarthy on Precision Medicine Advisors reviews polygenic risk scores, including a section on why they are controversial and not everyone agrees they are ready for prime time.
This article on the International Society of Genetic Genealogy wiki gives a good introduction to polygenic risks scores as well and is written by a PRS researcher.
If you are looking for a licensed and certified genetic counselor’s help in understanding your report, reach out or schedule with me. I’ll be happy to go through it and answer your questions!
The recorded re-telling of a painful and emotional experience of uncovering a DNA surprise is helpful for others to read. It supports and validates others who are going through the same thing, and it provides insight for the friends, family, and professionals who will be there alongside a person on their journey following the unexpected discovery.
An important point that my next guest blogger, Christa, makes is that receiving the truth from her mother rather than denial held so much value to her. She was so grateful that her mom ‘came clean’ straight away when she came to her with the discovery that the father she had grown up believing was her biological father was not.
I recently spoke with Sonya Collins who writes for WebMD Magazine. I shared my thoughts and advice on at home DNA tests based on years of both personal and professional experience, and I was pleased to see TWO articles come from it!
Please read, especially the second article! It will equip you to be a savvy chooser of a DNA tests you might purchase online and you can find more detailed advice than what made it into the article HERE.