WebMD News Brief

How to Choose a DNA Test

DNA strand
From the WebMD Archives

Dec. 27, 2018 -- Before you browse the many genetic tests for consumers, make sure you know exactly what you want to get from a test -- health information? Ethnicity breakdown? Connection with relatives? All of the above? Then get started on your homework.

Brianne Kirkpatrick, a licensed and certified genetic counselor, suggests narrowing your choices down to companies whose websites offer the following:

  • Clear samples of what you’ll get. If you’re after a pie chart that shows all the ethnicities reflected in your DNA, make sure you see it on the company’s website.
  • Description of what their DNA tests tell you and the technology they use in “CLIA-certified” (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988) and “CAP-approved” (College of American Pathologists) labs. Ideally, the lab’s CLIA and CAP numbers appear on the website.
  • A toll-free contact number and an email address or online chat platform for customer service.
  • The names and credentials of employees, which must include a team of scientists with advanced degrees in genetics. Think twice about a company whose marketing team is bigger than its scientific team.
  • Clear terms of service and privacy policy. People often skip over these when they accept services online. But when your unique genetic information is involved, it’s important to read and understand these.

One last note: If a company’s claims seem too good to be true, they probably are.

WebMD Health News Brief Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on December 27, 2018
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