MyHeritage DNA Review
MyHeritage DNA is a self-administered at-home DNA test designed to provide users with insights into their genetic and ethnic backgrounds, and potentially connect them with relatives. The test involves a two-minute cheek swab, and results are typically available within four weeks. In terms of accuracy and user experience, let’s delve into the details.
1. Quick and easy self-administered test
2. Multi-layered privacy protection
3. Results include ethnicity estimates and genetic groups
MyHeritage DNA boasts a user base of 104 million worldwide, which offers the potential for comprehensive information about one’s genetic profile and family tree. The test categorizes DNA results into 2,114 possible geographic regions and 42 ethnicities.
Originating as a home business, MyHeritage began in 2003 as a free online service aimed at helping individuals build their family trees. Over time, it expanded exponentially, incorporating advanced matching technologies to facilitate easier research and identification of lineage. In 2010, MyHeritage developed a dedicated mobile app, and in 2012, it introduced a historical record database.
The first MyHeritage DNA at-home genetic test was launched in 2016. Since then, the company has accumulated data from over 7.2 million DNA tests and amassed a digital archive of 19.4 billion historical records. It also boasts over 1 million annual subscribers.
1. Easy cheek swab test, simpler than an at-home COVID-19 test
2. Multi-layered encryption safeguards privacy, ensuring that only users have access to their DNA and results. Data is never sold or used without consent, and users can delete their data at any time.
3. DNA analysis is conducted by a certified lab accredited by Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and College of American Pathologists (CAP).
4. Extensive database for matching purposes, including 6.2 million DNA samples and a large genealogy database for users researching their family histories.
5. Offers ethnicity estimates and genetic groupings, allowing users to track the clusters where their relatives are located.
1. Postage is an additional cost, especially for international customers.
2. Some users find the DNA breakdowns to be less specific than advertised. The results provide broad strokes (regions) rather than pinpointed (specific countries), which may feel less accurate compared to other similar DNA test products.
3. Navigating the MyHeritage website can be confusing. Features like chromosome matching may be challenging to understand without some expertise. Additionally, the platform presents thousands of matches, some of which may only be distantly related, leading to overwhelm.
To access the advertised 18.6 billion historical records, a subscription is required. Those interested in thorough family history research should expect an annual expenditure of $300. However, new members can currently avail a 50% discount for the first year.
MyHeritage DNA at a Glance:
– At-home DNA test: A quick and easy two-minute cheek swab provides genetic information within four weeks.
– Privacy protection: Samples are processed in a certified lab with multiple encryptions and dual gold-standard lab certifications, ensuring a high degree of security.
– Results include ethnicity estimates and genetic groupings: The test offers 42 ethnic categorizations and classifies individuals within 2,114 genetic groups. While the variety may seem extensive, some users may find the results less specific than expected.
How Does MyHeritage DNA Work?
To begin the MyHeritage DNA experience, users must first order a kit from the official website. Delivery time varies based on location but typically takes around a week.
Once the kit arrives, follow these instructions:
1. Register online: Create an account using a personal email address and provide other necessary individual information. Link your account with the DNA test by entering the unique code printed on the included activation insert and box. This ensures the lab can accurately match the test to the correct user account.
2. Collect a sample: MyHeritage DNA requires a simple self-administered 30 to 60-second cheek swab. Guidance is available to assist you in navigating the procedure. Please communicate in the English language.
3. Mail the test: A pre-addressed envelope is included for returning the vials to the MyHeritage DNA lab.
4.Wait for results.: Once your account is created, MyHeritage DNA will send emails updating you on the progress of your DNA analysis. These updates include status notifications such as “Your DNA sample has arrived at the lab” and “DNA extraction in progress.” MyHeritage utilizes an autosomal DNA test and employs a custom-made genotyping chip to process the extracted DNA. The chip is then analyzed by a computer using proprietary algorithms to generate your unique DNA data. This data is further examined to ascertain your ethnicity and identify potential DNA matches.
5.Access DNA data online: After approximately four weeks, you will receive an email notification indicating that your DNA results are accessible in your online account. Through your account, you will be able to view your ethnicity estimates, genetic groups, and DNA matches.
Upon accessing your DNA data, the results will be displayed in the DNA tab of your account. Under this section, you will find a map illustrating your general ethnicity and genetic group information. This visual representation enables you to observe your results graphically alongside the corresponding percentages for ethnicity or the “confidence level” for genetic groups. Additionally, there are diagrams suggesting potential genetic matches, categorized as Close Family, Extended Family, and Distant Relatives. Clicking on any of these matches will provide more information about the individual, including shared DNA amount and their name. However, contacting them or viewing their family tree requires a premium upgrade.
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MyHeritage DNA Kit
Experience the highest technological standards at an affordable price
Discover your ancestral origins across 2,114 regions
Find previously unknown relatives through shared DNA
Unlock the secrets of your unique heritage
Helped millions of individuals connect with newfound family members and explore their ethnic origins
How Much Does MyHeritage DNA Cost?
The MyHeritage DNA kit is priced at $89, excluding shipping fees. Please note that the cost of returning the DNA swabs to the lab is your responsibility.
If you desire a deeper understanding of your family tree and wish to access the extensive MyHeritage historical database, as well as other advanced features, an annual subscription fee applies. The cost of a one-year subscription is $300, but the first year is available at a 50% discount with the option to renew at full price. You can obtain this discount instantly by signing up for a free one-month subscription when purchasing a kit, or it will be offered again after you receive your results.
Please be aware that the initial fee does not cover any medical or health insights. These insights are available for an additional fee of $120. However, a half-price option is available to new customers, bringing the cost of the additional information down to $60 upon signing up.
The Fine Print
Some complaints on Trustpilot have raised concerns about the limited functionalities available on the site without a paid annual subscription. Access to the historical search engines and other features requires membership in MyHeritage.
In addition, some customers who opted for the free all-access subscription for one month upon purchasing the kit discovered that their trial period ended before receiving their results, rendering the “free trial” ineffective. A few Trustpilot reviewers reported being billed for an annual subscription without being aware of it, as their “free trial” began before they received their DNA results.
What Experts Say
Jennifer Hintzsche, Ph.D. in bioinformatics and CEO/founder of PherDal Fertility Science, Inc., explains that MyHeritage tests approximately 700,000 out of around 3,000,000,000 letters (0.023%) in the genomic puzzle from chromosomes 22/23. These letters are correlated with traits present in the literature and among other users.
Dr. Hintzsche highlights that whole genome sequencing, which analyzes all 3 billion letters of the genome, provides the most comprehensive DNA sequencing. In contrast, MyHeritage employs single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) array testing on autosomal chromosomes, which offers a limited form of matching. It is important to note that this limited scope is not indicative of inaccuracy, as SNP array testing serves as a more basic approach.
Dr. Hintzsche likens SNP array testing to proofreading a few letters of a book, considering that there are 3 billion bases and only 700,000 (or 0.023%) are examined. As a result, it is impossible to discern the contents of the remaining DNA. Determining what constitutes a “close DNA match” with a SNP test is a decision left to MyHeritage. Without sequencing entire genomes or the X chromosome, the estimation of DNA overlap remains at best an approximation.
Dr. Hintzsche believes that there is a lack of public awareness regarding the inclusion and exclusion of DNA in these tests, particularly in terms of the small percentage analyzed. While these tests offer accurate results at the letter level, it is crucial to recognize that SNP research is continually evolving and is inherently selective.