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Family Tree DNA vs American Screening Corporation

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FAMILY TREE DNA

As the partner company for the National Geographic's genographic research project, FamilyTreeDNA enjoys a reputation as a well-respected company for DNA testing, for purposes of studying family history. The tests they offer go much more in-depth than most services that help users look into their genetic ancestry.

FamilyTreeDNA has tests in three primary categories:

  • mtDNA: This traces a subject's maternal ancestry by exploring mitochondrial DNA. It can be used to determine if two people are siblings.
  • yDNA: This is offered only for males, because it traces genetic links through paternal DNA (i.e. the y-chromosome).
  • Family Finder: This test provides an in-depth report of where one's ancestors came from geographically, and allows users to make connections with other tested relatives in their database

Of all the tests offered by FamilyTreeDNA, the Family Finder is the most popular. It gives you a percentage breakdown of your ancestral background and allows you to connect to their database of other users. The price of this test has gone down significantly over the past few years; at the time of our review, it had dropped from the original price of $99 to an everyday price of $59.

If you prefer to analyze your genetic makeup more closely, specifically delving into information that can only be accessed through your mother or through your father, you'll want to take a look at the mtDNA and yDNA tests. FamilyTreeDNA offers various packages that combine these types of inquiry; the higher the price of the test, the more genetic markers the test will cover. These too allow for connecting with their databases and finding relatives, as well as joining group projects and working with experts in a particular lineage.

One of the few drawbacks we identified with FamilyTreeDNA is the relatively small database. They don't publish the actual number of records they maintain, but in digging around we were able to determine that it's likely less than a million. Compared with other services currently available - that can have as many as six times that amount - these DNA tests may give you much more detailed information, but fewer people with whom it may connect you.

For that reason, FamilyTreeDNA remains in the middle of the pack with respect to DNA testing. They offer a depth of testing for ancestry purposes that can't be matched by most services, but it will cost you. And, with fewer available connections once those tests are completed, FamilyTreeDNA can't compete with some of the bigger names on the market.

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AMERICAN SCREENING CORPORATION

Based in Louisiana, American Screening Corporation has been in business for over 15 years and enjoys a solid reputation as an accredited, "A+"-rated business with the Better Business Bureau. This company focuses on selling drug and medical testing and supplies directly to the consumer.

With respect to DNA, the only types of testing you'll find here are Parentage, Infidelity, and Siblingship. Most tests are completed within 5-7 business days and returned via plain envelope that has no company name or logo on the outside, to help maintain customers' privacy.

The website is outdated and not very easy to figure out. At first glance, it seems that their DNA tests are all very inexpensive, with some selling for just $1. But, when you look at the product image and description, you see that there's also a $125 lab fee. v

We tried using the live chat to get answers to our questions, especially about how much the testing costs in total and where we'd be expected to pay those additional lab fees. We were connected to a representative right away, who asked to call us on the phone. When we said that we didn't have our phone handy, she asked which product we were looking at. Although we provided that information right away, the representative never returned to the chat.

There also was a lot of missing information in American Screening Corporation's product descriptions. We got excited when we saw something that looked like it would test a dog's DNA - we could finally find out if our rescue dog indeed was part Boston Terrier! - but there was no further information when we clicked on the product.

We like that ASC has a well-established history in direct-to-consumer lab testing, including DNA tests. But, our experience with trying to place an order was confusing at best. There wasn't enough information available to be sure that we were getting the test we needed, or to know exactly how much we'd have to pay for lab processing fees. For these reasons, ASC drops a star compared with our last rating; we hope to see improvements in their online business, especially when it comes to live chat representatives and product descriptions.

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Best DNA Testing

To help you find the Best DNA Testing, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Family Tree DNA and American Screening Corporation.

Who has the best DNA Tests? It seems like everywhere you look these days, there are companies offering DNA Testing. The largest consumers of these DNA tests are people who want to connect with their heritage and/or living relatives, or who are hoping to gain insights into medical conditions and inherited medical predispositions that might affect their health.

Other reasons why people might want a DNA Test include establishing paternity of a child, identifying inherited traits, and detection of infidelity. But no matter the reason, one thing's for sure: DNA Testing has exploded in popularity as its reliability and usefulness continues to grow.

It's important to point out that, as a consumer industry, these DNA tests and the results that come from them are still an emerging science. This is especially true when it comes to testing for ancestry, where one's results are best considered a probability estimate and not an absolute conclusion. For example, you could have a DNA test done today that shows your heritage as 60% British Isles and 40% Eastern Europe, but re-running the same test in five years could show a slightly different balance as more people are tested and the estimates become more accurate.

Similarly, testing done to determine DNA traits and predispositions for medical conditions should be taken as one piece of the puzzle, not a foregone conclusion. Most experts recommend discussing these results with your doctor or a geneticist before making any drastic changes or coming to any written-in-stone conclusions regarding your future health.

On the other hand, DNA testing has been highly accurate when determining parentage. False positives are rare: if your test shows that Person X is the father of a particular child, those results are very likely to stand up in court.

There are many different companies offering DNA testing today, so it's important to know which ones offer the service you need before you purchase a home test kit. As you consider which company to use, you should keep in mind the following criteria:

  • Focus. Does the company offer DNA tests primarily for genealogy purposes, health testing, or paternity? Can you get a comprehensive test for multiple purposes (like ancestry and health background)?
  • Price. DNA testing fluctuates in price, with fees ranging from less than $50 to well over $500. Because these services have become more popular recently, you may be able to find promotions and discounts at certain times of the year.
  • Results. Have people used this service and been satisfied with the information received? If you're using a DNA test to explore your family history, how well does the company connect people with living relatives? (In other words, how big is their database of users who want to share their information with blood relations?)
  • Reputation. Does the company have a good track record for accurate testing and protection of privacy?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best DNA Testing companies available today. We hope these reviews help you find the DNA information you're looking for!



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