GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – DNA tests are a great way for people to learn about their ancestry, and they have become a popular gift for the holidays.
However, genetic counselor Dena Goldberg said it’s important to know you could learn things you weren’t ready for.
“They think it’s going to be fun. They’re going to find some information, and a lot of people don’t think about how that information might affect them and their family members,” Goldberg said.
She’s seen this happen first hand.
“A close person to me that had this experience, and I think that she is still kind of grappling with this information because it really was such a shock,” Goldberg said.
She said there are four major risks to taking a DNA test.
“One – Thinking about surprises that might come up in your family, so finding out your father wasn’t your father, finding out you have a sibling you didn’t know about, finding out you were adopted, or that you were conceived with a donor egg or sperm” she explained.
Others risks include discovering a health risk you weren’t aware of, not knowing where your personal data is going, and what Goldberg said is the most risky is the chance of getting a false negative.
“There’s actually a lot of people that have mutations that will not get picked up on these health tests, because their mutations are not the points that are not being tested in these health tests,” Goldberg said.
Knowing these risks are a possibility when you take the test is one thing, but she said a lot of people don’t know what to do after one of these risks becomes a reality.
“Genetic counselors are there to help on the health side mostly. There are people who can also help on the ancestry side,” Goldberg said. “There’s a lot of resources for people who find things they weren’t expecting in their families. There are a lot of online support groups.”
She said it’s important to have a plan and someone to talk to before you test.