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If you are considering having a DNA test done, you may be wondering just how long it will take to get the test results back. How long it takes for you to have the information gained from a DNA test depends on the kind of test you utilize, where it is performed, and what the DNA test is analyzed for.
What's in this Guide?
- How Long Does A DNA Test Take?
- How Fast Can You Get DNA Test Results Back?
- How Long Does It Take To Get Paternity DNA Test Results?
- How Long Does It Take To Process DNA Tests?
- How Long Does A DNA Test Take At A Hospital?
- How Long Do Results Typically Take For An Ancestry DNA Test?
- Can You Get DNA Test Results Faster?
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...
While we provide time ranges for when you can expect to have DNA results returned, you should know that these estimates are just a window; in fact, depending on the backlog of data a DNA lab must sort through before getting to your results, the amount of time could shift once you go through the DNA test process.
Keep reading for more information on what you can expect when it comes to waiting for the results of your DNA test.
How Long Does A DNA Test Take?
The actual process of having a DNA test performed doesn’t take much time. In fact, during the process of collecting your DNA for a test, you should know that it goes quite quickly!
If you’re choosing to use an at-home DNA test kit that can help you trace your ancestry or family history, or for other reasons such as spotting potential health issues, you’ll likely have to wait several days for the kit to arrive to you in the mail.
From there, the process is pretty straightforward — first, you’ll register the kit online, collect your DNA sample through either a saliva sample or a buccal swab (also known as a buccal smear or a cheek swab).
The sample collection process is pretty quick — completed in five minutes or less. From there, you’ll pop the kit the sample back into the box and send it off through the mail.
If you’re looking to open up the kit as soon as it arrives, you can even have the DNA sample set back the very next day — that’s how quick the at-home process is!
In a different vein, if you are going through the process of having a DNA test performed so that you can prove (or disprove) paternity, or for medical reasons to diagnose a health condition, this kind of test is performed just as quickly.
After arriving at your doctor’s office, hospital laboratory, or selected testing lab or clinic, your health care provider or another medical specialist will collect either your blood, saliva, or cheek cells to gather your DNA.
Each of these DNA collection methods goes relatively quickly; you can expect the process to take less than a minute for a saliva or cheek swab test, and generally less than 15 minutes for a blood draw.
How Fast Can You Get DNA Test Results Back?
How quickly you get back your DNA test results depends on where you send off your sample and why you’re having testing done:
Paternity testing: Paternity test times vary, but in many cases it’s possible to have test results back within three to five days, to a week. This is relatively fast, but you should know these tests can also take much longer, sometimes up to several weeks based on how quickly the lab is processing results.
DNA tests ordered by a doctor: Depending on the kind of DNA test a doctor orders for you, the results can take anywhere from three days to two weeks. It all depends on how quickly your DNA can be processed by a lab, and if additional testing is necessary.
Ancestry and family research DNA tests: Many at-home DNA testing kits that link you to unknown relatives and help with family research often return results within six to 12 weeks, though the time can vary drastically based on how many other people have also recently submitted a DNA test.
How Long Does It Take To Get Paternity DNA Test Results?
Paternity testing results can arrive back to you pretty quickly, and for many people, that’s a relief.
If you choose to have a paternity test done while in the hospital after having a baby, it is possible to even have the results back before you check out and take your baby home for the first time.
But, if you choose to hold off on a DNA test until some time later, or if you need a DNA test long after your child has grown out of baby clothes, paternity DNA test results are still relatively fast.
In most cases, a hospital, testing clinic, or DNA laboratory can have paternity DNA test results back to you in as little as a three business days to a week.
Of course, anytime you send of DNA or bodily fluids to a laboratory for testing, you should know that the return time for your results depends on just how busy and backed up the laboratory is with its testing queue.
For this reason, some labs can have results back within hours if there are few other tests to be done, while some labs may have extensively long return times as long as several weeks to a month or more if they are exceptionally backlogged.
Wherever you choose to have your paternity test processed, the lab or clinic should let you know during the process just how long the results will take to receive, and how they will come back to you.
How Long Does It Take To Process DNA Tests?
If you’ve purchased an at-home DNA test kit to find out more about your ethnic heritage or to find unknown relatives, you’ve probably seen the status of your test move from something like “arrived at lab” to “processing.”
But how long does the actual DNA processing in the lab take? First, you should know that just because your sample arrived at the lab doesn’t mean that it’s instantly being processed. But, after other tests ahead of yours have been completed, many test companies are able to send results in as little as one to two weeks.
However, during busier times of the year, for example, after holiday DNA kit sales, you can expect that time to be a bit longer. Some DNA kit users report wait times as short as seven to 10 days, while others say the time it takes the kit to move from a “processing” status to returned results can be as long as several weeks.
If you’re having your DNA test performed at a doctor’s office or hospital, the processing time speeds up because there’s no need to mail off your DNA sample. Your DNA may be processed as quickly as a few hours to several days after collection, and the actual time may be less than the amount of time it takes to process DNA tests varies by the company or lab you choose to analyze your genetics.
How Long Does A DNA Test Take At A Hospital?
DNA tests performed at a hospital are generally pretty easy and fast to do
— the collection process either through a cheek swab (also called a buccal swab), saliva sample, or a blood draw is pretty fast, ranging between a few minutes and 15 minutes at most (blood draws usually take the longest considering the prep work to collect the blood in a sterile, safe manner).
But when it comes to getting results back, DNA tests at a hospital can take as little as 24 hours if the laboratory is not busy and swamped with other tests, or as much as several weeks.
In most cases, DNA tests done at hospitals, specifically paternity tests, are often relatively fast. Many people have results back from a hospital DNA test within three days to one week.
You should also know that not all hospitals have laboratories available to be able to process DNA. For smaller hospitals, or hospitals that outsource their lab work, it's possible for your results to come in just as fast, or somewhat slower.
These hospitals may still be able to process small, relatively simple DNA tests such as paternity tests, though more complex reasons for using DNA, such as diagnosing a potential genetic health condition or inherited illness may be more difficult or not possible at smaller hospitals.
If you’re considering having a DNA test at a hospital, it’s smart to call ahead to determine what services the hospital laboratory can provide, how long they take, and your estimated expense. In many cases, insurance companies will cover some or all of the cost of DNA tests that are ordered by your doctor and necessary for diagnosing a health condition.
But, this usually excludes DNA testing such as paternity testing, which is considered non-medically necessary by insurance companies; that means you can expect to pay for this DNA test out of pocket regardless of whether you go to a hospital or use an at-home paternity test kit.
How Long Do Results Typically Take For An Ancestry DNA Test?
If you’re wondering just how long it will take to get the results of your family ancestry DNA test, know that how quickly you find out your ethnic background depends on the company you use, the time of year you submit your sample, and how popular that testing company is.
After your sample arrives at the lab of the test company you’ve selected (such as 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or the Mayo clinic), your DNA sample will wait in a queue of other samples that are ready for analysis. How quickly your sample is analyzed, with results returned to you, greatly depends on how many other samples are ahead of it.
On average, many at-home DNA test kits that you can purchase online take between six and 12 weeks for analysis.
This number can fluctuate heavily based on when you send in your sample; for example, if you purchase your kit during a time of year where there are no promotional sales from DNA kit companies, you may find that your sample comes in before the six weeks, or right around that time, simply because there are fewer kits waiting for analysis.
However, you should expect the wait time for getting your results to be much higher during other times of the year, such as the winter holidays, when these DNA test kits are increasingly popular gifts and companies promote them with discounts and sales.
That’s because a huge rush of returned kits creates a longer backlog of testing for the company’s DNA lab.
Can You Get DNA Test Results Faster?
Depending on the kind of DNA test you are having performed, it may be possible to speed up the return of your test results.
Some labs will allow you to pay extra processing fees to bump your DNA sample to the front of the line for a faster return. This is more likely in situations where you are working directly with an independent, for-profit DNA analysis lab, though you should know that it at doctor’s offices and hospitals, this may not be an available option.
And when it comes to expediting the return of results from a DNA test kit that you purchase and submit from home, you generally can’t speed up the return process. That’s because kits are processed in the order that they arrive.
At this time, it doesn’t appear that any of the major DNA testing companies that market to consumers offer extra options to pay for faster return service. If you are wanting to speed up the DNA testing process, it is possible to pay for expedited shipping, which can decrease the time it takes for a kit to arrive to you.
If you go this route, know that you may also want to pay for faster return shipping, though this would be an additional out of pocket expense since the cost of at-home DNA testing kits for ancestry and other purposes usually includes pre-paid return postage in the kit cost.
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