People may use DNA test kits to learn about their ancestry and genetic risk of certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, only some companies offer genetic health testing and FDA approval.

What are at-home DNA test kits?

An at-home DNA test kit allows people to learn about their genetic makeup, ancestry, and overall health risks.

A person will usually provide a saliva sample for analysis at a laboratory. This analysis will involve studying DNA in the sample cells to look for mutations that indicate a person’s risk of developing specific health conditions.

A person does not need a doctor’s recommendation to get an at-home DNA test kit, and they are widely available to order online.

How to choose an at-home DNA test kit?

To choose an at-home DNA test kit, a person can consider the following points when evaluating each company:

  • The accreditations of the laboratories the company uses: Not all DNA test kits are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the testing laboratories may not be accredited by the US Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA).
  • The company’s privacy policy: A person can check if the company provides detailed information on how it uses and stores customer data and who has access to it.
  • The company’s staff: Some companies employ medical geneticists and genetic counselors and offer consultations with doctors so users can better understand their results.
  • The company’s website: A person can review the quality of the information on the company’s website. This should include services, pricing, and testing and analysis methods.
  • The types of genetic mutations the test focuses on: A person may wish to check that a company tests for the condition they are most concerned about.

Uses of DNA tests

A person can use DNA tests to get personalized information about their risk of certain diseases, their traits, and their overall health.

A person can also use these tests to find out more about their genetic ancestry, learn where their ancestors may have lived, and build their family tree.

2019 US national survey concluded that genetic specialists were the best group of health professionals to advise a person on the results of genetic tests. Not every DNA test offers access to genetics professionals, so a person may need to seek genetic counseling themselves to learn more about their test results.

Risks of DNA tests

A person may receive information they were not expecting from a DNA test kit. This can include information on health conditions or details about their family or ancestry that may be upsetting.

DNA test kits only offer a partial picture of a person’s health. Other factors can also influence disease risks, such as lifestyle, medical history, and environmental factors. Having a genetic mutation for a certain disease does not mean someone will develop the condition.

Additionally, a false negative result on a health test may cause a person to avoid seeking the medical treatment they need.

A person can consider discussing the results of their DNA test with a doctor if they would like help with understanding their results.

Professional DNA testing

Professional genetic tests are different from at-home DNA tests. A doctor will order a clinical DNA test to analyze samples for specific conditions, such as breast cancer. A person’s health insurance may cover the cost of genetic testing if a doctor recommends it.

An at-home DNA test cannot prove whether a person will develop a particular disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not recommend a person use DNA tests to make decisions about their medical care.

A doctor can order different types of genetic tests depending on the condition they wish to examine. These include:

  • single-gene testing
  • panel testing
  • large-scale genetic or genomic testing

A person can work with a doctor or a genetics professional to understand the benefits and risks of the genetic tests they need. This is not always possible with an at-home DNA test.


At-home DNA testing is a convenient and quick way for a person to get insights into their genetics. A person can buy an at-home DNA test to find out more about their family history or see if they carry traits that could make them more likely to develop certain health conditions.

A person may find their results upsetting or surprising. Talking with a doctor or genetic counselor can help people understand their results and put any genetic risks into perspective.