Genetic testing comes with important considerations that you may want to discuss with your family and loved ones. As you learn information about your own genes and DNA, these results may also impact your family. Whatever questions you may have, help is available to support you throughout this important part of the journey.
Genetic testing can be beneficial for many families, particularly those who have been struggling to find an answer to their health questions for some time.1 However, there are potential concerns that may need to be discussed with family members, especially if you have received a new diagnosis. Your genetic test results may provide important information for your loved ones who can then make more informed medical decisions about their own care.
The content in this section may not be applicable in all countries. Genetic testing regulations vary and in some instances may only be carried out at the request of the court, or by a doctor for medical or scientific research purposes.
Some reasons to consider these types of tests include:1
A genetic test is likely to reveal one of four things:
It can be hard to anticipate how your family members may respond when you approach them about your genetic testing. Some may find it helpful and appreciate you sharing while others may feel anxious, angry, or scared about the new information. You know your family best. It may be helpful to discuss your concerns about sharing information with family members with a genetic counselor who can provide support. To learn more about genetic counselors and their role on a health care team, click here.
Before sharing health care results with a family member, it is helpful to consider these questions:
Support from a genetic counselor can also help prepare you for difficult conversations with family members. To locate a genetic counselor, use the “Find a Genetic Counselor” tool on the National Society of Genetic Counselors website or the search engine on the American Board of Genetic Counseling website.
The field of genetics and the concept of inherited diseases is highly complex and may be difficult to understand, particularly for young children. However, there are resources available for families considering discussing this information with their children. Genetic counselors are trained to help you work through these discussions.
GeneEd Web explores the role of DNA, genes and chromosomes through games, videos and experiment ideas.4
Thank you to the following organizations that provided strategic guidance on our genetic testing topics: Global Genes, Permanente Medical Group – Genetic Movement Disorder Clinic, Our Odyssey, One Rare and Remember the Girls.