Genetic Test Results: 1 Half-Brother, 1 Divorce

Biologist cautions that surprise revelations can destroy families
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2014 1:12 PM CDT
File photo of a slide used for testing DNA.   (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

(Newser) – As a biologist, George Doe got seriously geeked out about the idea of having his own genome read. So much so that he bought kits from a company called 23andMe for his parents, too. The upside is that they learned all kinds of details about their family ancestry and health profiles, Doe writes at Vox. (The author's name is a pseudonym.) The downside? Doe also learned that he's got a half-brother out there via his dad, and here's how that surprise revelation went over: "My parents divorced. No one is talking to my dad. We're not anywhere close to being healed yet and I don't know how long it will take to put the pieces back together."

So while plenty of stories exist about how genetic testing has brought far-flung families together, Doe writes that it can just as easily tear families apart. As the process becomes more common, he thinks companies such as 23andMe should make sure their customers are better prepared for all possibilities. "I'm the one with my PhD," writes Doe. "I understand how this works. But I didn't think through all of the practical implications, in part because I thought, 'This wouldn't happen to me.'" Click for the full column.

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