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Within the past few years, DNA tests have become sought for more reasons than what they were traditionally used for.
What was once a tool used mostly by medical professionals, courts, and law enforcement, DNA tests have become popular among everyday people for a variety of reasons.
What's in this Guide?
- Finding the Best DNA Test
- DNA Tests Of Many Types
- DNA Tests for Ancestry
- DNA Tests For Siblings, Parents And Pregnancy
- Can You Use DNA Test Kits While Pregnant?
- DNA Tests For Wellness
- DNA Tests For Pets
- DNA Tests For Disease Detection
Disclaimer: Before You Read
It is important to know that your genes are not your destiny. There are various environmental and genetic factors working together to shape you. No matter your genetic makeup, maintain ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, avoid harmful alcohol intake, exercise regularly, get regular sleep. And for goodness sake, don't smoke.
Genetics is a quickly changing topic. Read More...
Within the past five years, home DNA test kits have become popular for family historians, individuals who want to know more about their heritage, adoptees who are unsure of their lineage and family health history, and even pet owners.
In this new and quickly popular world of DNA testing, it’s easy to wonder what the best DNA test out there is. Of course, because each test varies by how it works, what genetic markers it identifies, and the data it uses, determining which test is the best match for you can be difficult.
Whether you’re looking for the best DNA test for adoptees, the best DNA test to find ancestors you didn’t know you had, or the best DNA test for dogs, there’s a kit that can work best for you.
Finding the Best DNA Test
DNA tests can vary greatly, even if the same person is tested using different kits.
As more and more people wade into the world of voluntarily taking DNA tests to find out more about themselves and their loved ones, there’s a lot of questions about which kit is the best DNA test out there.
While it is easy to go off recommendations from friends or advertisements, know that DNA tests can vary greatly, even if the same person is tested using different kids.
For example, if you are looking to find out more about your Native American ancestry, and you use two different DNA test kids, results from both tests likely won’t match up, and may even be drastically different.
For that reason, it’s important to select a DNA test kit that is more tailored to the genetic information you may be seeking.
DNA Tests Of Many Types
The reason that it can be tricky to identify the best DNA test out there is because there are several companies that offer the service.
Genetic testing companies have their own proprietary sets of data, which are protected from the public and competitors.
This makes it difficult to understand exactly how their laboratories analyze the data, how the data set is created, and how comprehensive it is.
Because DNA test kits compare your personal DNA to that of other anonymous DNA to determine results, results can differ based on who else has taken the test.
So, if you’re researching your Jewish ancestry 1 or trying to find the best DNA test for half siblings, which one do you buy? The first step in identifying which DNA test kit may work best for you is determining why you want to take a test in the first place, and what kinds of information you are hoping to gain from it.
DNA Tests for Ancestry
Many people are fascinated by the idea of knowing their heritage, and DNA testing has been exceptionally popular for this group of interested people.
Many people seek out these DNA test kits because they either don’t know much about their family history — for example, people looking to know more about their Jewish ancestry because they grew up without a close tie to family or religious traditions.
On the flip side, many family historians and genealogists are exceptionally interested in using DNA testing to determine if family stories of having Native American ancestry are true.
For this group of DNA-interested researchers, these genetic test kits can be helpful in situations where family history research has hit a brick wall or dead end — which is often the case for African-American researchers who have little information or archival material to search from due to slavery.
Whatever your reasons for purchasing a genetic testing kit to know more about your family’s background and history, when it comes to picking out the best DNA test to find ancestors, there are several options to choose from, some of which are described below.
DNA Tests For Ancestry
AncestryDNA is one of the most popular genetic testing kits, and you likely have seen the brand’s commercials on TV.
Ancestry’s test focuses heavily on your family tree, and can be a great tool to link into an existing Ancestry family tree account.
Because of the focus on family heritage, Ancestry’s service can help link you with other users of the family research website.
But, if you’re weary about having your genetic data shared anonymously with others, this test is still able to explain your personal results — such as your ethnicity percentages, your family’s migration route, and more.
MyHeritage DNA is also focused on helping you create or pad out your family tree. MyHeritage also can provide you with a database of historical records and documents that can help light your way to knowing more about your family’s history.
Using a similar approach to Ancestry, MyHeritage has a bank of 42 ethnic groups, and its analysis of your data compares your genetic markers to those in the recognized groups to determine potential matches.
FamilyTreeDNA is another offering that helps you unlock information about your family’s heritage. While this company doesn’t offer the documents and records database that many researchers utilize when seeking to know more about their family histories, it does offer tools like a family matching feature that connects you with other users, maps that trace your ancestors’ migration to where you are today, and tools that help you better understand exactly what parts of the DNA chain you share with others.
You may not have known that National Geographic has its own DNA test kit, called Geno 2.0 2. This test doesn’t offer the same family tree research resources such as AncestryDNA or MyHeritage, but it can offer interesting perspectives about your family members and ancestors.
Geno 2.0’s reports detail the travels your ancestors made, starting with a likely origin point and migrating to where you are today.
This test doesn’t focus as much on matching your family history, but showing how you may be related to different groups of other people who are alive today, which can make it a little more difficult to use for family tree research if you’re using a DNA test kit as a tool to getting started.
DNA Tests For Siblings, Parents And Pregnancy
For some people, using a DNA test kit isn’t necessarily about finding past relatives. Instead, it is a tool they may consider to find siblings, parents, or to learn more about their pregnancy.
These tests can drastically help in cases where paternity is questioned, or in situations where an adoptee may not know who their parents are.
When it comes to finding the best DNA test for half siblings (or full siblings!), there are several options. DNA sibling testing works by comparing the genetic markers of two or more possible siblings, and determining how much DNA is similar.
According to DNA test company 23andMe, full siblings, on average, share about 50 percent of their DNA, while half siblings, on average, share about 25 percent 3. Not surprisingly, in the case of identical twins, that percentage jumps way up to 100 percent.
23andMe, AncestryDNA, and FamilyTreeDNA all can offer sibling DNA matching, and are the better options compared to other genetic tests. That’s because these tests have extensively large banks from which you can compare genetic material if you’re looking for unknown siblings.
But, if you and another person suspect you are half or full siblings, you can both submit a DNA test kit to confirm the data — you should share some DNA and these test results should link you in the company’s respective matching system.
If you’re looking for the best DNA test for adoptees, know that there’s not necessarily a wrong choice. All of the above-mentioned DNA tests can help you link in with parents you may not know. According to 23andMe, parents and children share, on average, 50 percent of their DNA.
This means your chances of correctly identifying a parent are higher than correctly identifying a sibling, grandparent, uncle, or other family member.
Many people who are looking for the best DNA kit for adoptees actually consider taking multiple tests from several companies to help expand their search.
That’s because there’s no shared bank of data among genetic testing companies, and you’ll want to explore each company’s data set for a particular match.
While this definitely means you’ll have to budget for the cost of multiple kits, submitting multiple DNA test kits can potentially increase your chances of finding a match.
Can You Use DNA Test Kits While Pregnant?
Well, it all depends on what information you’re trying to find. If you’re looking to determine paternity for your child, many DNA test kits on the market aren’t going to be able to help.
That’s because these tests use a cheek swab or saliva to determine shared genetics, and in that case, you’d simply be sending in your own results.
That being said, there are a variety of at-home DNA testing kits that can be purchased at drug stores or online to determine paternity after your child is born.
You may be considering using a DNA test while pregnant to identify possible health issues for you or your unborn baby.
There are two kinds of DNA testing in this realm — invasive DNA tests and non-invasive DNA tests. Invasive tests are performed in a medical setting by a health professional (such as your doctor’s office) and include procedures such as amniocentesis or Chronic Villus Sampling (CVS) 4, which require a doctor to draw fluid or blood. Non-invasive DNA tests use saliva, and these at-home DNA test kits can help you identify potential health issues.
23andMe is one of the best providers of this kind of data, because the research-centered test company can provide you with specific information about your hereditary makeup, and risk factors for diseases or health issues that could be passed onto your children.
And still, another new DNA test on the market can help you guess if you’re carrying a boy or girl.
SneekPeek is an at-home gender DNA test that can provide you with results as early as 9 weeks of pregnancy.
The test analysis is done quickly and can send results within three days, making it a quick turnaround for parents who just can’t wait until the 20-week ultrasound to find out their child’s sex.
DNA Tests For Wellness
If you’re looking for more information about your personal health, the best DNA test out there may be one suited more to analyzing your individual genetics rather than your family lineage.
Helix’s DNA Discovery Kit can clue you into information about how your personal genetic profile is impacted by your everyday environment — it claims it can tell you your calcium levels, how much coffee you consume, and how other factors impact your health.
Another company, Pathway Genomics, offers PathwayFit, a DNA test kit that analyzes almost 100 different genetic markers to determine how your body is functioning, and explains how your genetic makeup can impact your heart health, reproductive health, skin, weight, and other personal factors.
Companies such as DNAFit combine analysis of your genetics with lifestyle coaching to help you take control of your health and live a healthier lifestyle.
DNAFit’s testing kits can help you determine exactly what kind of nutrition your body needs to thrive, along with potential food sensitivities and intolerances; it also explores how your body reacts to exercise and food.
DNA Tests For Pets
Have you ever wondered what breed your cat or dog is? Enter the world of DNA test kits for pets. If you’re searching for the best DNA test for dogs, you have several options.
Embark creates a profile based on your dog’s DNA, and that information can provide ancestry results, a detailed screening of your pet’s health, and prospective health issues based on their genes.
Wisdom Panel can determine just how much wild ancestry (that is wolf and coyote genes) your pet has, and within three weeks, you help you determine if your dog matches a profile of more than 250 different dogs.
Find My Pet Dog DNA Test provides health screening for your dog, and tests against 200 different dog breeds to determine your pet’s possible ancestry.
And for cat lovers, don’t worry. While there are limited resources when it comes to testing your cat’s DNA, it can still be possible.
Basepaws can help you determine what kind of cat Kitty may be. Basepaw’s test uses cat hair and a cheek swab to analyze your cat’s DNA (which may be more difficult to obtain than if you were swabbing Fido).
The company then completes a report that details information about your cat, such as their unique traits, ancestry, and health insights.
The DNA testing company also uses its growing database of cat DNA for further research into cat health, which means your feline friend will be helping further genetic research and advancements for pets.
DNA Tests For Disease Detection
In a world where we have so many medical advances and know much more than ever before, it’s become easier than ever to find out if you're susceptible to certain diseases based on your genetic composition.
If you’re looking for the best DNA test out there for disease detection, there are several strong picks to choose from.
Many reviews suggest that 23andMe’s DNA Ancestry + Health kit 5 is a top choice for disease detection testing.
That’s because this genetics testing company is more focused on health information and research, as opposed to family lineage or history tracing.
23andMe’s genetic testing can explore your DNA makeup to determine how at-risk you are for certain diseases, such as celiac disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and BRCA1/BRCA2 (the genes that identify your risk for breast cancer).
In addition, the test can also reveal if you are a carrier of some inherited health conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and hereditary hearing loss.
Other strong contenders for disease detection DNA kits include the Mayo Clinic’s GeneGuide, and CarrierCheck by Sema4. GeneGuide can help determine if you are a carrier of diseases that are passed on genetically, and evaluates your personal risk of other diseases.
It can also help determine how well your body may respond to certain medications. CarrierCheck is targeted to individuals planning to start a family, and can help you determine if you are a high-risk carrier of more than 67 different inherited conditions, including Bloom syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Sandhoff disease, Wilson disease, and more.
- First Timer
JewishGen- an affiliate of the museum of Jewish Heritage
- AN UNPRECEDENTED VIEW INTO YOUR DEEP ANCESTRY
- Autosomal DNA statistics
International Society of Genetic Geneology
- Chorionic Villus Sampling: CVS
American Pregnancy Association
- FDA allows marketing of first direct-to-consumer tests that provide genetic risk information for certain conditions
United States Food and Drug Administration