Once confined to the halls of medical clinics and hospitals, online genealogical DNA tests – sometimes called ancestry DNA tests – are quickly shifting medical information out to the people they affect most: consumers.
No longer is it necessary to see a medical professional to get a DNA test completed.
Dozens of new online DNA testing services have come onto the market since the early 2000s, offering a convenient way to submit samples and receive results without leaving your house.
The result of this shift has been positive. There are several ways people can leverage DNA testing today to improve their understanding of their unique family and medical history.
In particular, there are three things that people can now do cheaply and effectively using online DNA tests:
- ancestry DNA testing
- paternity DNA testing, and
- genetic health screening.
Ancestry DNA Testing
In most cases, a verbal or written family history supplied by close family members is not enough to build an reliable family tree.
Ancestry DNA testing fills-in the gaps provided and discloses family genealogy several generations back.
Using an ancestry DNA test, it is possible to identify one’s racial background, past ancestors and even the approximate geographical location of those ancestors over time.
Basically, ancestry DNA testing builds up a timeline into your genetic past, revealing familial, racial and geographical ties.
For example, a particular test may show that a person is related to someone else who lived several generations back. It may also show that one’s ancestry contains varying proportions of Asian, European, Latino and African ethnicities.
There are three types of genetic ancestry tests:
- Y chromosome testing
- Mitochondrial DNA testing and
- Autosomal DNA testing.
Autosomal DNA testing is the most commonly employed method by ancestry DNA test services. This is because it is the most effective in determining ethnic backgrounds and can be used to track family histories further back in time.
- Ancestry.com is for people who want to construct a family tree using a variety of information sources (DNA is just one) so they can understand their ancestors better – but aren’t completely concerned about accuracy.
- FamilyTreeDNA.com is better suited for people who actually want to connect with lost relatives and to know for sure if they are related.
Paternity DNA Testing
For several reasons, it may be necessary to determine the biological relationship between an individual and his or her alleged father. Paternity DNA testing helps to accurately determine whether an individual is the biological father.
Like ancestry DNA testing, paternity testing was not easily accessible to consumers until very recently. It was also costly.
But with the emergency of numerous DNA testing services operating online, the cost has come down and accessibility greatly improved.
Now, all you need to do is send a test sample and receive test results without having to travel anywhere.
Some of the areas where paternity testing has proven really helpful include:
• In legal situations such as child custody and child support.
• To prove someone’s claim to inheritance.
• In immigration and adoption.
• When claiming social benefits.
• For general confirmation of paternity by consumers.
A DNA paternity test is one of the most accurate methods of determining parentage with results usually being over 99% accurate.
Of course, choosing a reputable paternity testing company is important in ensuring quality and accuracy of test results.
One of the most interesting ways DNA paternity testing has been put to use in on television. Paternity Court TV is a popular TV show where a judge uses paternity DNA tests to decide cases brought before her.
Improving Health Outcomes
There are many diseases associated with genetic disorders.
Though it is difficult to prevent inherited diseases, having knowledge of them can help lower their severity or even in some cases prevent their occurrence altogether.
For example, a woman who understands that she is genetically predisposed to breast cancer may decide to undergo breast mastectomy to allay that risk. An individual whose ancestry has several members with diabetes will take extra care to live a wholesome lifestyle.
After confirming ancestry, it becomes easier to identify those health risks that might be passed down from other family members. For instance, ancestry research may uncover the presence of early onset Alzheimer in one’s family line. This knowledge can help in improving health outcomes.
Power and Knowledge in Consumer Hands
The advancement of Genealogical DNA testing out of medical facilities and into consumer hands has had a big impact.
People are discovering unknown family ties, connecting with lost relatives, settling family disputes and taking better charge of their health.
This is power and knowledge in their hands.
The biggest selling points today for services providing consumer DNA testing are lower costs, guaranteed confidentiality and faster testing speeds.
In the future, it is inevitable that genealogical DNA testing will shift even closer to the consumer.