Taking a DNA test for health reasons is known as genetic testing, which is a way for doctors to determine whether an individual is a carrier of a genetic mutation that could lead to a medical condition. These days, doing a DNA test has been made easier with DNA home testing kits, which just require you to swab your cheeks and send the samples to the lab (check out what happens after the swab). However, these home tests only tell you the probability of getting some diseases. A test ordered by the doctor could be more conclusive as the results are specific to your genetic code, and not a check run through some databases.
A genetic test usually detects the changes in one’s genes and structural protein, and then assesses the probability of an individual inheriting a genetic disorder. The results can also be used to determine the risk of parents passing on some genetic mutations to their children. The sample collected is then examined for any genetic abnormalities.
There are a number of benefits of having your DNA tested in order to know your health condition. If the results you get are positive- which indicates the presence of genetic mutations- then at least you are prepared early enough and you can start making changes in your lifestyle. If the results happen to be negative, then you will have some peace of mind if for some reason you believed that you inherited a medical condition.
Doing a genetic test will also help you be ‘in the loop’, as doctors will be a bit more specific when giving you information about your condition. This allows you to begin treatment for your condition as early as possible.This is particularly helpful to individuals who know of some of their family members getting conditions like breast cancer. Knowing that you carry that gene could help you take up some preventive measures like hormonal therapy medication. Some people who have a high risk of getting this cancer may also opt to surgically remove their breasts and ovaries before the onset of the condition.
Genetic tests are also very useful for people who are considering having children in the future. Knowing about your health and whether you carry some genetic mutations can help you decide if you want to have children, for some people opt not to have them if they can pass on those medical conditions.
New born babies are also benefactors of this test, because some genetic conditions can be treated if they are detected as early as birth. If they cannot be treated, the parents will at least have enough time to accept the results and prepare for the future, especially if they have a special needs child.
Even with the benefits of going through genetic testing, you should know that negative results don’t mean that you are clear of any genetic abnormalities- just of those that are known. Also, the results from this test cannot predict how severe the condition will be. In spite of this, it’s better to know what it is you’re up against, instead of ignoring the risks posed to your health and getting the results when it’s too late to do anything.