At-home genetic screening kits — sometimes referred to as direct-to-consumer kits — are growing in popularity thanks to technological advancements. Although the most common at-home genetic screening kits provide information about ancestry, health-related screening devices are becoming readily available. It can be attributed to advances in genetic testing technology, which has lowered the cost of test kits. With the newer kits, it is possible to screen health-related gene mutations at the comfort and privacy of your home. However, as much as genetic screening home-kits are convenient, you should know a few facts before purchasing one.
Seek Professional Genetic Counseling
A common misconception among consumers is that home-based genetic screening kits are easy and straightforward to use. However, most people end up seeking expert opinion once they have the results. Although genetic screening home kits are not as complicated as clinic-based kits, you must seek professional genetic counselling before buying one. Additionally, genetic screening results can cause anxiety; therefore, counselling helps users put everything into context to minimise apprehension. For instance, you might seek information regarding your familial ancestry but end up discovering unexpected paternity. A genetic counsellor helps you understand the limitations and implications of home kits results better.
Privacy of Personal Genetic Data
Privacy is arguably one of the main reasons for the increasing popularity of home-based genetic screening kits. However, since you must present the results to a genetic expert for detailed interpretation, you need to be careful regarding the laboratories you use. Some companies might retain your genetic data indefinitely based on internal data retention policies. Therefore, buy a genetic screening home-kit from a company with a track record of compliance with international guidelines on genetic data privacy. The best strategy is to read the fine print on what you consent to before using a kit and sending your results.
Impact on Insurance
When applying for life insurance, insurers may request that you disclose any genetic information you may have at the time of the application. In most cases, consumers that have used genetic screening home kits will provide this information. Unfortunately, some life insurance companies can use this information to adjust your premiums if you are at increased risk of chronic disease. Therefore, ensure you first understand the implications the results of a screening home kit will have on insurance, particularly if you plan to buy a policy in the future.
To learn more about genetic screening, contact a local health care clinic or medical professional.