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Genetic Test

Risks continued...

There is very little risk of complications from having blood drawn from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the puncture site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is taken.

There are no risks linked with collecting DNA from saliva, urine, or semen.

Other factors

The information obtained from a genetic test can affect your life and the lives of your family in many ways, including:

  • Psychological effects. The emotions you may experience if you learn that you are likely to develop a serious disease or have an affected child can cause you to feel anxious or depressed. This information may also affect your relationship with your partner or other family members. Genetic counseling is recommended before you have genetic testing.
  • Medical treatment choices. If you test positive for a disease-specific gene change (mutation), you may decide to use preventive or treatment options, if they are available, to reduce the impact or severity of the disease. While many treatment options have been proved effective, others may be potentially dangerous or of unproven value.
  • Pregnancy decisions. Finding out that your unborn child (fetus) is or may be affected by a genetic disease can impact the decisions you make about the pregnancy. You may want to consider ending the pregnancy. Or you may need to change your delivery plans. If you had planned on giving birth at home, you may need to have your baby in a hospital. If your child is likely to need special care after birth, you may need to deliver in a hospital other than the one you first chose. You may also need to have special health professionals present at the birth.
  • Privacy issues. Many people worry that genetic information released to insurance companies may affect future employment options or the cost or availability of insurance. But a law in the United States, called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), protects people who have DNA differences that may affect their health. GINA prevents employers and health insurance companies from using DNA information about people to affect decisions. This law does not cover life insurance, disability insurance, or long-term care insurance.


A genetic test examines the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of a person's cells. Genetic testing can identify changes in genes or can analyze the number, arrangement, and characteristics of the chromosomes.

The results of genetic testing depend on the type of test done. Genetic testing is used to:

  • Diagnose an inherited disease.
  • Provide information about how likely it is that you will develop a disease in the future.
  • Determine whether you are a carrier of the disease.
  • Provide information about the severity of an inherited disease.
  • Help choose appropriate treatment for some diseases, such as HIV infection or some types of cancer.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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