What is an ancestry DNA test?

An ancestry DNA test is essentially a test which breaks down your DNA and where it comes from. We each have 23 chromosomes; the 23rd is the X and Y that make up our gender, but the other 22 are autosomes made up of DNA from each of our parents.

How does an ancestry DNA test work?

A sample is provided, usually saliva. This is tested to identify genetic markers and establish haplogroups. A halpogroup is a genetic population group of people sharing common ancestry either on the paternal or maternal side. For example, you, your mother, your siblings, your mother’s sister, your maternal grandmother and so on would all share the same maternal haplogroup.

What can an ancestry DNA test show me?

Ancestry DNA tests often look at matches which are potential relatives based on segments of identical DNA. By looking at the amount of DNA shared between matches scientists can discern the type of relationship between the two people. For example, a grandparent and grandchild will share more DNA in common than two cousins.

The genetic code of both maternal and paternal lineages is compared to each reference population a company stores in its database and this is used to determine geographical locations and any other markers.

This can be a very interesting can of worms to open because this sort of test shows connections to specific locations. People often find out about links to countries and areas they would never have guessed.

Can an ancestry DNA test tell me about my health?

A standard ancestry DNA test will usually only tell you about geographical locations of your ancestors, often in a percentage breakdown. However, CRI Genetics offers an Ancestry and Health test which, as well as showing geographical details can tell you details about things like caffeine consumption, milk digestion, fat storage, triglyceride levels, sun sensitivity and even ear wax. This can be really useful if for example you have concerns about a genetic predisposition to a particular type of disease or sensitivity.

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


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