Do you have questions about your genetic background or ancestry?
Whether you are looking for clarity on family relationships or in search of answers about a suspected genetic health condition, a DNA test can help.
In recent years the popularity of home DNA testing kits has surged, and they are now widely accessible online and from local pharmacies.
There are numerous DNA companies out there which promise to unlock the mysteries of our genetic makeup and offer insights into everything from our genetic predispositions such as weight or health conditions, to revealing truths about our ancestral or cultural past.
Navigating this market can feel like an overwhelming task, and many of us are left wondering whether these DNA tests can actually tell us anything worthwhile or accurate.
In this article we will explore all the questions you may have about DNA testing, covering everything from how it works to how long you’re likely to have to wait to receive the results.
We’ll look at the DNA Diagnostics Centre specifically to learn more about how this company approaches DNA testing and what consumers can expect from them.
But first, let’s take a look at the science behind DNA testing to uncover why exactly DNA home-testing kits have become so popular.
What is DNA testing?
DNA testing, also known as genetic testing, is a type of test used to identity changes in DNA sequence or chromosome structure.The information encoded in your DNA effectively determines your unique biological characteristics.
Tests can be used to determine biological relatives, such as a child’s true parentage, or to predict an individual's ancestry. DNA testing also has practical health applications and can be used to diagnose or rule out suspected genetic disorders or predict possible risks for specific health conditions.
A medical specialist may refer a patient for genetic testing to identify any changes in genes which may cause health problems or to diagnose any rare or inherited health conditions. The results can be a useful guide for doctors and medical practitioners to devise personalised treatment plans for patients. The test itself is usually carried out using a sample of saliva, tissue or blood.
Why are DNA testing kits so popular?
Fuelled by the rise of gyms, health apps and new diet plans, many of us are becoming more health-conscious and want to find out about our genetic make-up and how it can impact our physical and emotional health.
Where our grandparents would have had to search through birth records, marriage certificates or photographs to find out where they came from, we have the convenience of the internet and DNA testing kits to tell us what we need to know.
The desire to discover our origins or place ourselves within a shared cultural history has always been important to us as a society. The feeling of belonging to something which can be clearly defined and acknowledged has a particular appeal that isn’t always easy to articulate.
As American science writer Sam Kean put it, ‘genes are like the story, and DNA is the language that the story is written in.’
About the DNA Diagnostics Centre
Founded in 1995, the DNA Diagnostics Centre, also known as the DDC, is one of the leading and most highly-accredited genetic-testing laboratories in the world that offers comprehensive DNA-testing services to a wide variety of consumers.
They offer DNA-testing services in four main areas, namely paternity and family relationships, lifestyle testing (including ancestry and health), pets and veterinary and forensics. Their services are used by hospitals and clinics, government agencies, legal communities and consumers from all over the world who are looking for high-quality DNA test kits.
The DNA Diagnostics Centre have over 200 staff working at their laboratory who aim to provide high-quality and accurate testing services for consumers. Each year, the company process and analyse close to one million samples which they receive from locations all over the world.
The systems they have in place at their laboratory are designed to ensure the accuracy of results, and interestingly they were the frist laboratory to require every postnatal paternity DNA test to be performed twice by independent teams, to offer assurance for consumers.
At each step during the DNA testing process, samples are tracked, identified, checked against records and then signed off by a staff member at each different point.
In acknowledgement of their safe working practices, the company have even received a ‘Commendable Practice Award’ from the American Association of Blood Banks.
As a company, the DDC claim to pride themselves on offering a professional and compassionate service in the knowledge that DNA test results can often be life-changing and require a sensitive approach.
Reassuringly, the company also claim that staff are genuinely passionate about the science of DNA testing and the 14 in-house PhD geneticists keep up to date with the latest DNA technology and techniques.
What services do the DNA Diagnostics Centre offer?
The DNA paternity testing service enables users to confirm a biological father-child relationship quickly and accurately. This testing may be required for legal reasons or to establish clarity and resolve disputes in family relationships.
Legal paternity testing, also referred to as ‘chain-of-custody testing’, provides users with results that can be used as proof or confirmation of a relationship for custody, child support, immigration, birth certification or another legal purpose.
The DNA Diagnostics Centre has been accredited by the Ministry of Justice to perform parentage tests as directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under section 20 of the official Family Law Reform Act 1969. The laboratory also has international certifications from the ACLASS Accreditation Services (ISO/IEC 17025).
If you require a paternity test for legal reasons you can rest assured that the DDC will follow all the legal guidelines and protocol to ensure that everything is done to the letter.
Using the DDC paternity test service will ensure that the samples are collected by a neutral third party such as a nurse or doctor, and sealed with tamper tape at the collection appointment, from which they will be posted to the laboratory where they will be inspected for any signs of tampering. The service will also ensure that all tested parties are properly identified at the time when the sample is collected.
This service is fast, private and accurate, and the team will work with you to ensure that sample collection is arranged for a convenient time and location. The results are always confidential, and a full report will be available for the decision-maker as soon as the results have been appropriately verified.
The DDC also offer an affordably priced home paternity testing kit, which is an ideal choice if you’re looking for answer for you own personal peace of mind only.
The kit can be ordered online or you can ring to get some advice about which test will be best for you. Test participants will be required to collect and submit their own DNA, which is easy to do thanks to the user-friendly instructions and usually just requires a cheek swab.
You can usually expect to receive the results from this home testing kit within 3-4 business days, and the team are easily contactable if you have any questions or require any updates.
The company also offer non-invasive prenatal paternity testing, which offers users a safe, practical test to confirm results while pregnant.
You can expect to a wait a little longer for the results of this test, usually up to 8 business days. The process is simple and safe, and usually requires no more than a blood sample from the mother and a cheek-swab sample from the possible father.
The DDC centre will then help you locate the nearest DNA collection facility to your home to keep the process as quick and convenient as possible.
There are a few restrictions that consumers should be aware of for this test to be conclusive however, all of which are set out clearly on the DDC website here.
The DNA Diagnostics Centre offer a number of practical DNA lifestyle tests, which can shed light on all kinds of health related factors which may be affecting you, such as food intolerances, skin sensitives and pet allergies.
One of these tests is the ‘Home DNA Food and Pet Sensitivity test’, which should be able to give you some answers about any genetic predispositions in your family history that may explain some of your sensitivities.
When the results come through, you will receive a detailed personalised report which will effectively tell you whether you are genetically more sensitive to common irritants such as gluten, lactose, cow-milk, protein, pet dander, histamine and more.
Finding out this kind of information can be really useful in determining whether you need to make alterations to your lifestyle or diet or seek medical advice.
The report also contains some helpful advice on possible changes you could consider making based on your personal results, which is an added bonus.
The CGPS Origins Ancestry Test from the DDC would be a great choice for you if you’re hoping to gain a clearer understanding of your family’s history or certain family traits that you may have inherited.
The DDC use the DNA sample you provide them with (usually just a simple cheek swab) to test more than 80,000 unique genetic markers. The information is then checked against numerous gene pools to establish an idea of where your family’s DNA originated and migrated over time.
The test is so advanced that its results may even reveal the specific town or village where your ancestors met, which is really interesting to learn about and will shed light on your family genealogical heritage.
The test will be sent to you in a pre-paid envelope for you to return the sample quickly and easily. The tests will then be conducted against the genetic markers and results should be with you within 6 weeks.
Other lifestyle DNA tests from the DDC brand include the ‘healthy weight’ test which helps to identify your unique genetic makeup and offer appropriate diet and exercise strategies which may be of use to you.
The test will give you an indication of the many factors that determine your weight by analysing the genetic markers which relate to your metabolism and blood type.
Many people find this kind of information of value as the advice is tailored to your unique genetic information and can offer tips about the best foods, nutrients,and exercise routines that can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
If you are looking for some personal advice that has been customized towards your unique genetic makeup, this test may be just what you need.
Fertility and Reproductive Health Testing
There seem to be no limits to the different uses of DNA tests, with fertility tests now helping to shed light on why a couple may be struggling to conceive.
The DDC home fertility test for men can help to test and identity sperm count levels and find out whether a full clinical fertility investigation is needed. This is a fast and convenient test which can be carried out in the comfort and privacy of the home.
The results can help you establish your fertility status without having to see your doctor straight away. Coloured lines will inform the user whether there is a normal or low sperm count.
Also in this range is a home post-vasectomy test which can be really useful if you are looking to ensure that you are no longer fertile. Using this test will mean that you’ll be able to get a clear idea of your sperm count and find out whether your vasectomy has been successful.
The test can also be used every year to give you an indication of ongoing sterility if this is something that may be useful to you. This is convenient, effective and private test which can offer you the results you need in minutes.
How do the tests work?
Many of the tests advertised are quick and easy to perform, often requiring just a cheek swab to produce accurate results.
A pre-paid envelope will usually be sent out for the customer to send their sample in for testing. If other steps are required to perform the test, these will be detailed on the easy-to-follow instructions which each test participant will receive.
The DDC company aim to make DNA testing convenient and accessible to all, and the tests are designed to be user-friendly to accommodate this.
The procedure for legal DNA testing is slightly different as often a third-party is needed to identify test-participants and ensure legal guidelines are adhered to.
How long do the results take?
The time frame for test results from the DNA Diagnostics Centre varies between tests.
Some tests can be carried out at home and allow for immediate results, which can be really helpful if you don’t want to wait.
The majority of tests, however, will usually take a few business days to get back to you, and this is always subject to change according to business demand.
All tests results are subject to a series of checks and must be signed off by the appropriate personnel before they can be processed and delivered.
Some of the more in-depth reports will take a little longer to process and you can expect to wait up to six weeks, or more in some cases, to hear back.
Ethics and Implications of Home Genetic Testing
Whether you are new to home DNA testing or have already tried several different tests, it’s important to think about the ethics and implications of home genetic testing.
Users must be prepared to take responsibility for the information they may uncover, and accept that they might not always be prepared for what they find. The results of DNA tests can be complex and difficult to understand and interpret, causing panic and anxiety for some users. Speaking to a medical professional is always best if you have any concerns as they are in the best position to offer advice and support.
Some less credible companies may attempt to sell or use your personal information illegally. Any reputable DNA testing laboratory will be accredited by the relevant ISO accreditation (ISO 17025) which means that they have to carry out testing and market their services in an ethical manner.
If you are looking for a DNA home testing kit that will help you unlock truths about your health, ancestry or cultural heritage, the DNA Diagnostics Centre would be a good place to start.
They offer a comprehensive range of DNA tests which help users to understand their genetic makeup and all the factors it can influence.
The testing process is safe and confidential, and results are delivered in a clear and concise format.