At-home genetic tests check the DNA of your cells. These tests can find changes in your genes that increase your risk for certain health problems.
You don't need a prescription from your doctor and you don't need to involve your health insurance plan to use an at-home genetic test.
Some at-home genetic tests provide information about your health, paternity, or family health history.
Genes determine what features a person inherits from his or her parents, such as blood type, hair color, eye color, and other characteristics. Chromosomes are parts of body cells that carry DNA. The DNA of each chromosome is divided up into genes.
Changes can occur in genes or chromosomes. These changes may be harmless and undetectable. Or they may lead to conditions such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, or Down syndrome.
Genetic tests may be done to:
At-home genetic tests that offer information about your health risks may help you to decide to make lifestyle changes that help you stay healthy.
At-home genetic tests about ancestry can also help you learn more about your family history and ethnicity.
Genetic testing at home has only been available a short time. More research is needed to understand the benefits and risks.
The results from at-home genetic tests are usually just one piece of information. Other things that can affect your health include lifestyle, family medical history, and environment. So if you are thinking about using one of these tests, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor.
Your doctor may suggest that you see a genetic counselor. This type of counseling can help you think through the decisions. It is guidance given by a health professional (genetic counselor or medical geneticist) who is trained to help people understand their options for genetic testing and their risks of getting a disease or of having a child with the disease.
Talk with your doctor or genetic counselor about your results before you make health-related decisions such as:
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