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Want to test your child with a direct-to-consumer genetic test? Read this first :

December 26, 2019

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests have become popular in recent years. Many adults are using these tests to trace family roots and learn more about their overall health and lifestyle choices.

Some DTC tests are being offered for children, too. Before you swab your child’s cheek, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges parents to think about what would be best for the child. The AAP strongly discourages using DTC tests on children.

The types of DTC genetic tests have grown. Some claim to find out about your genetic ancestry, general wellness, genetic health risks or even if you might have the genes of a great athlete.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not review tests that provide general information. In fact, two tests could give opposite results for the same condition. The results might be different because the companies use different technology to run the test or different databases to interpret the results.

Wrong results can cause parents to make poor choices or needless health and lifestyle changes. For example, they might put children on special diets they don’t need. Parents should talk about DTC test results with a health care provider before making any decisions, according to the FDA.

Other tests claim to measure or predict a certain state of health. The FDA must evaluate these types of tests before they are sold. They must be accurate, reliable and easy to understand without help from a health care provider. A list of DTC tests that have been evaluated by the FDA is online at

Parents should think about their child’s privacy. The law mostly protects children with genetic test information from discrimination. However, the privacy of their genetic information may not be protected if they enter the military or seek life, disability or long-term care insurance. Also, DNA submitted to a DTC company becomes the property of that company. That DNA information can be shared with law enforcement or sold to a pharmaceutical company.

The AAP advises parents who want to find out more about their child’s genetics to talk with their pediatrician. Families can receive referrals to a clinical geneticist, if needed. When in doubt, the AAP says it is best to delay DTC testing until the child is old enough to decide.

For more information about genetic testing and screening, visit

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