How Accurate are Home DNA Tests?

How Accurate are Home DNA Tests?

  • Chris Powell

By 2019, more than 26 million people had taken at-home DNA tests. Most of these were to determine your ancestry or heritage, but some were also to determine the paternity of someone in question.

While the popularity of these tests aren't slowing down any time soon, you may ask yourself, "How accurate are home DNA tests?" In this article, we'll go over their accuracy, and what they can get right, and wrong, about your genetic make-up.

What is a Home DNA Test?

A home DNA test can come in a couple of forms and can be ordered from a few different places. If you're doing a paternity test, you may have to pick up the test kit from a local doctor or DNA testing lab.

Other home DNA tests, like those that determine your ancestry, are available online through various retailers. In the United States, you can also buy some of the DNA tests from brick and mortar stores like Target or Walmart.

To complete the DNA test, you'll need to either spit into a tube provided or to swab the inside of your cheek. You'll then place the tubes where the kit instructs you to, then mail it back to the laboratory.

What Do These Tests Tell You?

The Humane Genome Project was able to see the entire human DNA sequence in 2003. Following that, technology made it easier, and cheaper, for people to have their DNA read conveniently. As such, things like paternity tests and ancestry DNA kits began popping up.

Firstly, most of these kits can tell you who your close relatives are because you share the same types of DNA. For example, if you and your mother take the same test, it is likely that you'll be matched as mother and child.

The kits can also tell you who many of your close relatives are, and can often tell if twins are identical or fraternal, a question many twins were unaware of the answer to until they were much older.

The tests also supposedly tell you about your genetic heritage, though there is some discrepancy to that. In reality, the tests tell you where on Earth individuals possess the same or similar DNA to you. In some regards, this is telling you where your ancestors are from, but it doesn't necessarily tell you where your ancestors are from past a certain time period.

Many people also report discrepancies between tests.

Why Are There Discrepancies Between Ancestry Tests of Different Brands?

There are two reasons why some Ancestry test kits will give you one answer as to your DNA while other test kits will give you a little bit of a different answer.

The first reason is what the at home DNA test kit is looking for or studying in your DNA. For example, you could find out you're a carrier for cystic fibrosis in one test, but another will say that you're not at all. The difference is that one test is actually scanning for this, while one isn't.

Discrepancies in Ancestry tests can also be due to the number of people who take the tests. Your test results actually evolve over time, as they match to more and more individuals who have taken the tests. The more people with similar DNA to you that take the test, the more you'll know about yourself and your DNA.

At the moment, many Ancestry DNA tests are easier for white people to read and glean results from, as they are the most likely to take the tests.

However, people of color can also get some answers or results to their history, but the DNA will become more accurate as more people of color submit their tests.

It is important to note that the majority of Ancestry at home DNA tests will not tell you that people are not related to you if they are, and vice versa.

Are At Home Paternity Tests Accurate?

Yes. At home paternity tests are just as accurate as any test taken in an office or lab. These tests allow you to test for paternity in the privacy of your own home, at your own convenience. It also allows you to mail in the samples when you're ready and feel comfortable, both of which are major reasons why people choose to take paternity tests at home.

Just because a test is taken at a doctor's office or in a laboratory does not make it more accurate.

Why Are Some At Home DNA Tests Not Admissible in Court?

Depending on why you're taking the DNA test, you may need the paternity of your potential father in question in order to move forward with something legally.

However, you may have noted that at home DNA tests are not admissible in court, and therefore, cannot be used to state that the people in question are related to one another.

This is not because the at home tests are not accurate. The issue becomes that of a witness. If the tests are taken at home, there can be no assurance that other people did not take the tests and mail them in, thus manipulating the results.

If you take the test at a doctor's office or a lab, a witness can certify and document that the people in question are the ones taking the test.

So, How Accurate Are Home DNA Tests?

Hopefully, this article has answered the question of, "How accurate are home DNA tests?" The answer is, of course, highly accurate and getting better with each passing year. 

If you want to order a DNA test, check out the range of kits we offer.