direct to consumer DNA

Research Opportunity for DNA Testers

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/

Umbilical Cord Blood Donation and Ancestry Testing

Umbilical cord blood donation allows a type of stem cell transplant. This is my third post specifically about stem cell transplants and ancestry testing and it’s the first that focuses specifically on umbilical cord blood. You can read the first two about a case of bone marrow transplantation affecting an ancestry test result and how to try to go about DNA testing if you have already received a stem cell donation:

How to tell if an online DNA test is legitimate 

How to tell if an online DNA test is legitimate 

There are many varieties of DNA testing, some that are extensive scans of your DNA and some that provide focused or partial information. You can test for information about ethnicity, you can search for genetic relatives by matching their DNA, or you can search for information with medical significance. Some of the options you can only have through a medical provider, and others you can order for yourself directly over the Internet.

It’s hard to know who to trust, especially if you find them on the Internet and order the test for yourself. As a person who has taken many of these tests and a licensed and certified genetic counselor who works with people who test, I’ll explore the benefits and limitations of these testing options next.  

Should people have at-home DNA tests for medical purposes?

Should people have at-home DNA tests for medical purposes?

I’m often asked for my thoughts on whether at-home DNA tests should be used for medical purposes, since they are the only option some people can afford.

This a complex question, but it is one I have thought about and continue to think about.

It’s hard to answer succinctly because of all the moving parts -- access to an ordering provider for clinical DNA tests, additional costs for getting customized support or counseling support, the next steps to take in the medical system if a test is positive, etc. -- I address some of these in my recently published book since I am very close to all of these moving pieces and will write just a bit about it here.

“Objects may appear closer than they are…” - self-identity reflections from Maggy’s NPE discovery at age 54

“Objects may appear closer than they are…” - self-identity reflections from Maggy’s NPE discovery at age 54

Today we’re lucky enough to share a post entitled “Objects may appear closer than they are…” written in 2013 by a woman named Maggy. We’ve heard from others who discover they are NPEs (not the parent expected) in our #DNASurprise series of guest blog posts, but what happens when this discovery comes later in life? After you’ve spent five decades thinking you know the ins and outs of your family tree?

When Maggy was 54 years old, she discovered that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was. Throughout the ups and downs of her discovery, Maggy has shared insightful blog posts – cathartic not only for her but also providing valuable insight to others going through similar experiences. Throughout her post, we see the theme of identity, and how DNA surprises can impact a person’s sense of self and belonging.

MTHFR - a new article on Self.com lays out the facts

MTHFR - a new article on Self.com lays out the facts

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.

Recent coverage of DNA surprise support groups by major media outlets

Recent coverage of DNA surprise support groups by major media outlets

The news of just how many people receive surprises about their family matching from DNA tests is spreading.

As a genetic counselor and genealogy enthusiast, I saw this coming years ago (2014) when the first people began finding their way to me in search of support and information.

In anticipation of the growth, I’ve accumulated many resources and posted them freely on my website, I’ve posted the stories of those who have been through these experiences as guest blog posts, and started and administer secret support groups on Facebook.

Two Sisters Must Decide Whether to Tell a New DNA Sister She’s an NPE

Two Sisters Must Decide Whether to Tell a New DNA Sister She’s an NPE

YOU RECENTLY DISCOVERED A HALF-SIBLING. DID THIS SURPRISE COME OUT OF THE BLUE?

Jessica: I was not surprised to find out about a half-sibling as my dad was single after my mother and him divorced when I was five and did not re-marry until I was 10. He dated frequently during that time, from what I remember. My older sister made the discovery when she submitted her DNA first and found a “close relative” match but did not understand the implications until later.

Recently my sister asked my dad if he would be interested in taking a DNA test for genealogy purposes at which time he admitted he had another daughter. He figured it would come out if he ended up going through with the DNA test.

“I am thankful that she told me the truth when I asked” - Christa’s Story of a DNA Surprise

“I am thankful that she told me the truth when I asked” - Christa’s Story of a DNA Surprise

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.

Brianne Kirkpatrick Quoted in PhillyVoice article on unexpected DNA surprises

I recently spoke with Brian Hickey who writes for PhillyVoice. In this piece which covers the topic of support after unexpected DNA discoveries, I shared my thoughts on the topic and touched briefly on the role grief and support play in these experiences.

You can find the article HERE.

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.