DNA testing has become increasingly popular over the years. What’s more, the price of DNA lab work has dropped considerably as well.
What's in this Guide?
- Quick Overview
- How to Get a DNA Test
- Are cheap DNA tests accurate?
- What are the benefits of using a cheap DNA test kit?
- What are the risks of cheap DNA tests?
- Can I get a DNA test for free?
- How much is the cheapest DNA test?
- Where can I buy cheap DNA tests?
- Are discounts available?
- Do hospitals do cheap DNA Tests?
- Can you do cheap DNA testing while pregnant?
- Are cheap DNA tests FDA approved?
- The Bottom Line
Disclaimer: Before You Read
It is important to know that your genes are not your destiny. There are various environmental and genetic factors working together to shape you. No matter your genetic makeup, maintain ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, avoid harmful alcohol intake, exercise regularly, get regular sleep. And for goodness sake, don't smoke.
Genetics is a quickly changing topic. Read More...We will do our best to keep our content current, but it's important to know the new research can change our content at any time. For this reason, it is important to talk to your doctor about any medical symptoms or genetic tests you are considering. The information on this website is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, and/or treatment.
Many DNA tests are available as at-home tests. These tests are also known as "direct-to-consumer genetic tests". These tests are not typically medically verified and should not be used to make medical decisions. Our review of these tests is meant to help explain what you can, and more importantly what you can NOT, expect to learn or decide from their results. None of the products or services offered through the website are necessarily safe, suggested, or appropriate for you.
Tests that once used to cost thousands are now far more affordable. While a hospital will charge a few hundred dollars, you can also get a home-kit to collect your own DNA sample and then send it to a lab for analysis for considerably less.
We here at YourDNA are busy keeping up with advancements in the DNA world so you always know where to fine the most up-to-date information.
Since DNA tests are now so affordable, they are now done routinely.
In fact, according to YourDNA, in recent years, millions have taken some kind of DNA test. Moreover, knowledge about DNA and the discovery of new testing methods is growing at a rapid rate.
More Than Just Paternity DNA Testing
How to Get a DNA Test
Although DNA testing appears to have gone mainstream, there remains a lot of confusion about how DNA testing works, where DNA home test kits are available, and what they cost.
With that in mind, here are 10 answers to frequently asked questions.
Are cheap DNA tests accurate?
Other variations of this question are the following: Can a cheap DNA test be false positive? Can cheap DNA tests be wrong?
The answer is it depends. Sometimes, “yes.” Sometimes, “no.” Sometimes, “who knows?”
Accuracy often depends on the manufacturer of the test kits and the laboratory that they use.
The results may be inaccurate if the clinic you visit or the company you buy a test kit from is relatively new in the market. It may also be inaccurate if the laboratory they use to analyze samples is not well-run.
Occasionally, too, the consumer is to blame for inaccuracy if they do not comply with the instructions on how to obtain a good DNA sample from a home test kit.
Generally speaking, if you go to a reputable clinic or buy from a well-known retailer, the chances of getting an accurate result increases. Usually, retailers offer a DNA kit with easy-to-follow instructions on how to collect an uncontaminated sample.
This is usually a simple cheek swab because it's the easiest and best way to get DNA for those doing their own sample collection. Once collected, it is sent to a good laboratory for analysis.
Incidentally, price does not necessarily equal quality. Things are not that straight-forward when it comes to DNA tests.
Sometimes it is true that you get what you pay for but at other times you get far more than you would have expected. In other words, it’s possible to only get a cheap DNA test and still get accurate results.
So, do cheap DNA tests work? Yes, for the most part, provided, of course, that you buy from a well-established clinic or manufacturer, the sample is not contaminated or improperly collected, and if it is sent to a stringent laboratory where it is meticulously analyzed using at least 15 markers.
What are the benefits of using a cheap DNA test kit?
It’s a mistake to use a DNA test kit if you wish to use the results for some legal procedure.
For instance, if you want the father to provide child support and need to clearly identify the biological father. It’s a mistake to use a home kit for these purposes because the results of a DNA test kit are not considered admissible evidence in court 1.
It is not because a DNA paternity test done at home may be erroneous. Instead, it is because courts require a much more exhaustive process, often consisting of 3 to 4 parts. So, consider a DNA testing home-kit just as a way to get peace-of-mind rather than a way to meet some legal requirement.
What are the risks of cheap DNA tests?
There are no health risks involved in using a DNA test kit as it is completely non-invasive.
For instance, you will not have to scrape your skin or use a syringe to get a blood sample. Instead, you can get a good DNA sample through a simple cheek swipe, which means swabbing the inside of your cheek.
So, what risks do consumers take? The biggest risk consumers face is over-confidence about the test results.
The best way to avoid error is by testing under different conditions. If, for example, a man who is tested with 3 different kits from different manufacturers who use different labs shows even one negative finding, then he is definitely not the father.
A single error means that there is sufficient evidence to establish that there is not enough gene compatibility with the child.
Keep in mind that although DNA tests tend to be far more accurate than many forms of medical testing, they are never labelled as 100% accurate. So, all laboratories will only say that someone has a 99.99 probability 2 to suggest that this is as accurate as they can be.
This means that the accuracy of the sample is between 99% to 99.9999%.
There are many possible reasons for errors and while some may be the fault of the kit manufacturer or testing laboratory, the kit-user may also be at fault.
Four common reasons for erroneous DNA results are the following:
A. Human error either when collecting the sample or analyzing it.
B. A genetic similarity between two potential fathers. For instance, two brothers may have similar genomes.
C. DNA mutation in the father 3.
D. Chimerism. This means that either the father or the child has two genomes, that is two sets of DNA. For instance, one genome may be in one organ or tissue while another genome may be in a different organ or tissue.
Out of all these, the biggest errors are the human ones. This can occur in the following ways:
- Errors when collecting a sample
- Errors when analyzing a sample
- Mislabeling samples between two clients
- Contamination of samples
- A carelessly run testing facility
Can I get a DNA test for free?
The only way you can get a free DNA test is to go through a government program.
Usually, this is by asking for help from the Division of Child Support Services of your state. Depending on your circumstances they may be willing to cover the cost of a DNA test because the mission of these agencies is to make sure both parents can assume complete and full responsibility for the health, safety, and economic well-being of the child.
If you do use such a program, the father identified by the DNA test will likely be required to pay child support.
Be aware that the process of establishing the biological father by working with a government agency is lengthy.
How much is the cheapest DNA test?
On average, a DNA home test will cost you about $100. It can even be lower if you find coupons or discover online deals, bringing the price down to about $60.
Generally, the price will consist of the test kit, which can range from $10 to $30. The kit will give you instructions and basic paraphernalia to complete a DNA test. You will then send the test to an accredited lab, which will charge you from $60 to $140.
If the price is any lower than this price range, be suspicious. Chances are that it is a scam designed to part you from your money.
A home kit should be comprehensive enough for you to collect a good sample and the test needs to be sent to qualified laboratory technicians to analyze the sample.
Where can I buy cheap DNA tests?
The cheapest DNA tests are home-kits. They explain how to get a tissue sample and then arrange for you to send it to a lab.
Some well-established retailers like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Rite Aid provide DNA paternity test kits or ancestry test kits as well as others or health concerns, skin care and even dog breed testing.
The advantage of working with these reputable retailers is that you are highly likely to get accurate results. Additionally, you can get results back in about two business days for some paternity tests.
What’s more, your results will always be kept completely confidential.
Walgreen’s sells a home DNA Paternity Test Kit for $14.99 and a HomeDNA Ancestry Test Kit for $24.99. The company uses IDENTIGENE which charges $139 for lab fees.
CVS sells a home DNA Paternity Test Kit for $26.99. The company uses IDENTIGENE which charges $119 for lab fees.
Walmart sells a home DNA Paternity Test Kit for $14.99. The company uses IDENTIGENE which charges $89 for lab fees.
Rite Aid sells a HomeDNA Paternity Test Kit for $10.49. The company uses IDENTIGENE which charges $139 for lab fees.
Are discounts available?
Some commonly asked questions about buying cheap DNA test kits from retailers are “Can I use coupons to buy a cheap DNA test?” “Where can I find coupons to buy a cheap DNA test?” and “Can I buy a cheap DNA test online?”
And yes, you can buy a DNA test kit online. Usually, the best places to go to are the retailer's website, for instance, walmart.com, or Amazon.
While it may be possible to find cheaper online sources, it can be hard to determine if you are landing on a legitimate website.
Do hospitals do cheap DNA Tests?
Compared to using a home-kit, hospital DNA tests are far more expensive, ranging from $300 all the way to $500, and the price includes a professional way to collect DNA samples.
The advantage of a hospital DNA test is that the results are court-admissible. This means that they can be applied for a number of legal reasons like child visitation rights, child support, or immigration.
Can you do cheap DNA testing while pregnant?
A DNA test can be done within two months of the pregnancy. Hospitals can do a Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity (NIPP) test to establish paternity before the birth of the child.
Costs range from about $1,500 to about $2,000. This paternity test is usually safe because it just requires a blood sample from the mother and a simple cheek swab from the alleged father.
Incidentally, you should never agree to amniocentesis or Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) just to determine paternity. These were done in the past, but studies reveal that these invasive tests increase the likelihood of a miscarriage 4.
Are cheap DNA tests FDA approved?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does caution about direct-to-consumer tests.
The agencies main concern is not based on health risks, as collecting samples is safe enough because they are often a simple cheek swab. What concerns the FDA is that consumers will get incorrect information 5.
For this reason, they recommend consumers speak to a medical professional before using any DNA test. However, the FDA is reviewing its guidelines and may make it easier for DNA kit-makers and laboratories to market their products and sell them to the general public.
The Bottom Line
Since DNA tests are now so affordable, they are done by millions of people. While paternity DNA tests are the most popular, you can also do a cheap DNA test for immigration, ancestry, or even one for dogs.
When it comes to paternity DNA tests, they can be done at home using a kit or in a hospital; however, only DNA test collection done in a hospital or other secure facility is considered admissible in court.
Finally, be aware that the DNA marketplace is unregulated and that you may not always get accurate results. For this reason, it is better to buy a kit from a well-established company who has a relationship with a highly-accredited laboratory.
If you want to decrease the odds of an error, you should do the DNA test several times using different manufacturers.
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