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How Do DNA Testing Kits Work?

A DNA testing kit is available online, at your doctor’s office, or an accredited lab and can be useful in finding out answers to medical questions. Knowing what the DNA testing kit is used for and how it works enables you to know if you need one to help solve a medical dilemma.

What are the Uses for DNA test kits?

One of the most common uses for a DNA testing kit is to determine paternity — who is the father of a child. Another common use is to determine your ancestry — whether your ancestors were Native American, Scandinavian, etc. More recently, DNA test kits are used to determine whether you have a tendency for certain diseases — and if the medical condition runs in your family. Doctors who are trying to diagnose certain illnesses or even rare diseases may suggest that you get your DNA tested. They can look for specific changes in your chromosomes, proteins, or for other genetic clues that can pinpoint whether you have a certain disease. Other reasons to get tested are to determine how best to become physically fit or to help with weight management. The results of your unique genetic makeup can guide you to the right type of fitness or diet plan.

How Do the Tests Work?

DNA testing kits that you’ve ordered online typically contain a special cotton swab or brush. You gently scrape the inside of your cheek to collect a sample and insert the swab into a special container. You then send the container to the laboratory to be tested. Depending on the medical question you’re concerned about, your testing kit may ask for a few strands of the person’s hair that is being tested. Other more specialized DNA tests require samples of the individual’s blood, skin cells, or even amniotic fluid and are conducted in laboratories or hospitals.

It takes a few weeks for the lab results to come back. Once you have them you should have the answer to your medical inquiry or the doctor should be able to come much closer to a specific diagnosis.

DNA testing kits vary in price, but are generally relatively inexpensive. This is particularly true when you consider the value of the answers to your medical questions. Compare brands to see which has the features you need at a price you agree with. Get started with our review comparing Ancestry.com vs. 23 and Me.

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