Warning over risks of DNA testing sites

Rob Waugh
Should DNA testing services carry warnings? (Getty)
Should DNA testing services carry warnings? (Getty)

Business is booming for DNA testing sites, but the popular services should carry warnings that they can deliver unwanted suprises, the fertility regulator has warned.

The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (Hfea) warned that DNA tests can uncover family secrets, or underlying health problems.

The Hfea warned that sites can, for instance, uncover the identity of sperm or egg donors, even if they have donated anonymously, the Guardian reports.


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Services such as 23andMe and DNA.com have become highly popular, delivering information on family background using DNA from mouths swabs.

Hfea’s board called for sites to do more about informing users about potentially unwelcome consequences – such as finding out about a family history of heart disease.

Deputy chair Margaret Gilmore said, ‘It would be great if we could encourage more information about the consequences of going on to the websites.

Hfea chair Sally Cheshire said that the services could deliver unwanted information to people whose parents had used fertility services.

Cheshire said, ‘Anecdotally we believe that two-thirds of donor-conceived people don’t know they are donor-conceived.’