In recent years, as a result of the massive breakthroughs in technology and the newfound interest of many people to trace their ancestral origin, DNA testing kits have become increasingly popular.
The relatively low cost of these DNA testing kits and their widespread availability has continuously paved the way to use science to easily find out where you really came from.
THE RISE OF DNA KITS
DNA testing kits came into being after the introduction of direct-to-consumer genetic DNA testing when companies realized they could provide information about your heritage and ancestral origin in a refined and easy way.
The rise of these companies came about as a result of people’s increasing interest to know everything about their ancestors. This interest has grown over the years as a result of how much more convenient and quick these DNA testings kits are than the DNA tests conducted directly in hospitals
HOW IT ALL STARTED
GeneTree (2001 – 2013) was the first company ever to launch direct-to-consumer DNA testing for tracing people’s ancestral origin. GeneTree later sold its assets to SMFG (Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation) in the fall of the same year it was established. Another company, Family Tree DNA, was established by Max Blankfeld and Bennett Greenspan in 2000. This was the first establishment to really focus on the research behind direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Another company, 23andMe, was soon established. This company has now grown to become one of the leading DTC testing companies in the genealogy field. In fact, it was the first-ever to offer a saliva-based DTC genetic test. 23andMe also became the first company to utilize autosomal DNA for genetic testing, which is now commonplace in the industry.
In 2016, MyHeritage introduced its own testing service, using cheek swabs for the collection of samples from subscribers. It also introduced advanced analysis tools including auto clusters, which arrange all matches into visual groups and family trees, suggesting possible relations as a result.
According to Wikipedia, these genetic testing companies have grown so large that, in 2019, 26 million DNA profiles have been collected overall by these companies and added to their databases.
WHY DNA KITS CAN HELP YOU
DNA testing kits are increasingly more comfortable and easy to use. Whichever company you choose will deliver the kit right to your doorstep. These at-home testing kits are also relatively cheap compared to the tests conducted directly in hospitals. It also helps you learn more about your family heritage without being under the kind of pressure that is usually associated with hospital visits. All you need to do is just log on to your online account with the company of your choice, and they’ll provide the results within about two weeks.
Genetic testing offers a number of significant benefits, whether you get a negative or positive result. Genetic DNA test outcomes usually provide feelings of relief. People are usually eager to know more about their ancestral origins. So, when you receive your DNA test results, it should calm you down and remove any nagging doubts you may have had about your heritage. The results can also allow you to make more well-informed decisions about your health.
Put in another way, a negative test outcome can remove the need for checkups and screening tests that may be unnecessary. On the other hand, a positive result can make you more health-cautious in certain relevant areas. These tests offer information about your health, and whether there’s a history of certain diseases or conditions in your family. This way, you are more informed about what to avoid, how to monitor your health, and the treatment options that suit you best. The results of some tests can also help people to decide if they’re going to have children or not. Knowing your genetic origin also goes a long way in deciding who your future partner will be. Genetic testing of newly delivered babies can also lead to the identification of certain genetic disorders so that they can be treated as early as possible. Your results can also be added to the company’s large database and may consequently be adopted for use in medical research.
WHICH DNA KIT SERVICES ARE THE MOST POPULAR?
The top five most popular DNA genetic testing services are:
23 and Me
This is the most popular of them all, and that’s not without good reason—23andMe provides an extremely good service and is usually viewed as the benchmark for other services. It is capable of tracking your heritage and ancestral origin as far back as the Neanderthals. It also screens for health risks like Parkinson’s and celiac disease to see if they’re common in one’s family line.
Just follow the manual. Put your saliva in the tube provided for collection and you will receive your personalized result online soon after extraction. Many users of 23andMe have confirmed that it has helped them to find and reunite with their long-lost relatives. The service also provides accurate information about your family lineage. 23andme kits are FDA regulated.
23andme only reports your genetic information as it is. Like other DNA testing services, they do not interpret it. They essentially leave you to discuss the results with your healthcare provider. There are two different options for purchasing 23andme kits: one that provides you with information about your lineage; and the genetic & health kit that reports your risk of certain diseases alongside the information concerning your ancestry. 23andme also offers programs for your pets if you want to know their genetic heritage.
This is one of the oldest companies that has recently adopted direct-to-consumer genetic DNA testing. Despite this, AncestryDNA does an exceptional job of helping users to uncover information about their lineage. It is specifically for those seeking to source information about their ancestry and locates relatives with their family tree.
AncestryDNA attracts more users than its counterparts with about 4.4 million in its online database. It allows users to reunite with family members and build new relationships with unknown ones. It is possible to find your relatives among the millions of DNA samples in its database.
Also, AncestryDNA analyzes your DNA and then traces the lineage of people to as far back as five generations across 350 regions. The service is very affordable compared to many other DTC genetic testing kits out there. There are, however, some things to bear in mind—you cannot smoke or drink 30 minutes before extraction.
You will receive a notification to confirm the collection of your sample within a week. A subsequent notification then tells you that your test is being processed. This service also has several online resources, with new and advanced features introduced every now and then.
You can contact AncestryDNA support every day of the week between 9 am to 11 pm European time, just in case you need help during the process.
This is another relatively cheap service that offers accurate and detailed information. The features you stand to gain from MyHeritage are very similar to the ones you’ll find with more expensive packages of direct-to-consumer genetic DNA testing. This service is available nationwide.
What MyHeritage essentially does is provide you with a basic view of your genetic makeup whilst still maintaining your privacy. You can register with just a username, your sex, and birth date, and you are set to go. MyHeritage tracks the delivery of the results using barcode numbers, which you’ll receive upon registration. Around one week later, you’ll receive your results in your online account. Although it offers the same features as the more expensive services, MyHeritage preserves some of its other features for premium subscribers.
You can get DNA kits for your dogs too. If you want to know more about the heritage of your dog, you can subscribe to this service.
This is for people who want to know everything about their ancestral origin right from the very beginning — going as far back as 500,000 years ago. Its extraction process is somewhat different. Instead of the regular cotton swabs, you will find two different personal plastic swabs, almost like small toothbrushes, which you can use to scrape saliva from your mouth (inner cheeks). Almost immediately after extraction, this service notifies you when your result will be processed and available. After about four weeks, you will be provided with the results.
This test checks for more than 200,000 genetic markers. It can also compare your DNA with certain notable figures in history.
This test is specifically for knowing more about your lineage from way back. It doesn’t fulfill the role of providing information about more recent family roots like other service providers. According to a review from a physician on Amazon, this test is the most comprehensive technological means for tracing your DNA, especially from the distant past.
This is one great DNA testing service. HomeDNA offers a range of genetic testing that will provide adequate information on everything you need to know about your paternity, health, and even your pet’s genetic makeup. It can provide you with data transferred from other similar services too if you’re willing to pay for it.
You can subscribe to any service of your choice, according to your needs. It offers the following tests: HomeDNA starter Ancestry, GPS Origins Ancestry Test, Vitagene Health Report, and DNA Origins Maternal Lineage. You have the option of choosing just one of these tests or combining two or more.
HomeDNA is a little more expensive than other DNA testing services out there. But, rest assured, the result you’ll be getting will be very comprehensive.
If you’re willing to wait for around 7 to 12 days for the delivery of your kit, HomeDNA will offer you free shipping. However, if you want a 2-day or same-day shipment plan, you will be asked to pay $7 or $14, respectively. The process of extraction is very simple—the kit contains four cotton swabs and two envelopes.
Another unique feature of HomeDNA is its privacy feature. Rather than using your name, HomeDNA gives you a personalized barcode, which ensures your confidentiality. When your test is ready, you’ll receive a notification.
HomeDNA is not as thorough as National Geographic in its search for family ancestry, but it does provide more detailed information about your more recent ancestors. One omitted feature of HomeDNA is that it doesn’t offer genetic matches and therefore allows you to access your family tree like its counterparts. Aside from this, it’s a very comprehensive direct-to-consumer genetic DNA testing service.
Don’t forget that it’s not only for humans, if you want to know the genetic line of your pets, you can also use HomeDNA.