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Klitzman: Home DNA Kits May Not Offer Ancestry Answers

Korean adoptees are seeking answers about their ancestry from at-home genetic testing kits such as 23andMe, says PRI’s “The World.”

However, M.S. in Bioethics director Dr. Robert Klitzman casts doubt on the amount of insight one can glean from such reports.

Users of tests such as 23andMe “may think they must be getting more reliable information than they are,” he says. “They may have unrealistic expectations. They may think they’re going to fork over their money and find long-lost relatives. And that may not be the case.”

Klitzman explains the limits of such DNA kits this way: “If I were to pull a book off the shelf and I read the first letter on every three pages, so [that] on the first page the letter’s an A, three pages later the letter’s an E, three pages later, the first letter is a G, I wouldn’t know if I were reading the phone book or Tolstoy.”

While estranged family members have the right to find out more about their heritage and to connect with their ancestors, Klitzman cautions against relying on the limited expertise of these direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits.