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DNA home test kits: Pros, cons & all you should know before using one

Despite the many advantages, home DNA testing kits also have some limitations, disadvantages or risks.

Lancet founder and former CEO Ahmed Kalebi

DNA home testing kits have triggered debate among Kenyans on social media due to the convenience that allows individuals to learn more about their ancestry, paternity and potential health risks from the comfort of their own homes.

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One of the locally available home DNA sample collection kits is priced at about Sh800. However, the user is required to send the sample collected for laboratory testing which costs about Sh15,000.

The ability to collect DNA samples in the comfort of the house, without the need to visit a lab or clinic, can be an advantage for many people, especially those living in remote areas or who may have difficulty travelling to a testing location.

One of the main advantages of home DNA testing kits is their convenience. With these kits, individuals can collect their DNA samples using simple methods.

However, due to the amount of information contained in DNA, experts say it cannot be collected without consent.

Lancet Laboratories founder, Ahmed Kalebi, said in a recent interview that for labs to conduct such tests, there has to be consent from the person whose sample was collected.

With home DNA testing kits, individuals can easily and affordably determine the father of a child, without the need for more invasive and expensive methods.

This can provide peace of mind or both parents and children and can be especially valuable in situations where the paternity of a child is in question.

Despite the many advantages, home DNA testing kits also have some limitations, disadvantages or risks.

For example, the accuracy of the results may not be as high as those obtained through more elaborate DNA testing methods.

Additionally, the privacy and security of the results may be compromised if the kits are not handled properly or if the samples are contaminated.

Moreover, home test kits may not be officially recognised in legal matters and not be accepted in a court of law.

That kind of testing is not admissible in a court of law, but people do it for peace of mind,” Kalebi said, adding “Most labs don’t do the peace of mind testing because of issues of consent."

According to Pauline Muhanda, a lawyer and children's rights advocate, other than personal consent, only a court of law can order DNA testing to determine paternity.

Any DNA testing done without a court order or consent is illegal and can land someone in trouble,” she said.

She explained that if someone’s husband told their spouse that he did a DNA test on her or their baby without consent, she can sue.

It's also important to note that home DNA testing kits are not medical diagnostic tools and the results of the tests should be treated as informative and not conclusive.

Medics advise that the results of home DNA testing should not be used to make legal or medical decisions or to self-diagnose any medical condition.

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