HomeDNA review – Paternity testing made easy?

Rating based on our Our HomeDNA review

7 facts from our HomeDNA review

  1. HomeDNA Location: Ohio, USA
  2. Products: DNA genotyping-based tests for ancestry, food sensitivity, weight loss, skincare, and paternity; raw DNA data upload
  3. Availability: online and at drugstores like CVS and Walgreens
  4. Reports: information on ancestral origins, DNA-based health, and nutrition recommendations; for the paternity test, it provides the probability that a given individual is the father of a child.
  5. Data download: availably only for some products
  6. HomeDNA costs: ancestry testing ($69-$124), health and beauty ($139-$159), paternity testing ($28.99 for kit depending on where it is purchased from, plus $139 lab fee).
  7. Alternatives: Nebula Genomics (free DNA upload; whole genome sequencing for $299, not a paternity test), DNAnow (18-region DNA paternity test for $149), PaternityUSA (Paternity test for $115).

HomeDNA Introduction

HomeDNA (Home DNA) is a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company that was launched in 2017. It is owned by the DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC), a paternity and forensic DNA testing company founded in 1995 and based out of Ohio. DDC has processed over 10 million DNA testing kits. HomeDNA offers several types of DNA testing services, including ancestry, paternity, health, and beauty. Read more in out HomeDNA review!

HomeDNA Paternity Testing

Let’s first briefly review HomeDNA paternity testing which is one of the most popular HomeDNA products.

HomeDNA Paternity Test – previously known as IDENTIGENE ($28.99 for kit depending on where it is purchased from, plus $139 lab fee): The test kit includes cheek swabs to collect DNA samples from the biological mother, a child, and the potential father. The test determines the probability of paternity to help give you peace of mind. After the lab receives the samples, the paternity results are available in just two business days. One day and same-day results can be purchased for an additional cost. Each saliva sample undergoes Dual Process™ testing. This means that every sample is tested twice by two separate lab teams to guarantee accurate results. The test analyzes 15-17 different genetic regions to determine paternity. HomeDNA advertises that the probability of paternity can be identified with 99.99% accuracy, but notes that, “Accuracy of DNA testing refers to the quality of the testing procedures used by the laboratory only (free from mistakes). It does not mean a guarantee of any given response on paternity results.” Furthermore, results from this DNA testing kit cannot be used in court.

Other Products

HomeDNA has several types of tests available. Their affiliates also offer tests like the GPS Origins Ancestry Test (also available with DNA data upload) and genetic testing for pets.

Ancestry

  • HomeDNA Starter Ancestry Test ($69): This DNA testing kit provides you with cheek swabs and sample envelopes to collect and send your sample to the lab. The test analyzes 100 different DNA markers to determine what percentage of your DNA is of European, Indigenous American, East Asian, and Sub-Saharan African origin. You’ll also receive information about which present-day countries have populations that are genetically similar to you.
  • HomeDNA Advanced Ancestry Test ($124): This product is also a cheek swab DNA test. It analyzes ~80,000 DNA markers to determine the top three ancestral communities/gene pools that contributed to your genetic makeup. The results include the exact percentages of your DNA that originated from each of these three groups. You’ll also receive the historic migration routes of your maternal and paternal lines. 

Health and Beauty

  • HomeDNA Food and Pet Sensitivity ($139): Using DNA from your cheek swab, this DNA health report analyzes genes that may make you more sensitive to certain irritants, including gluten, lactose, cow milk protein, eggs, peanuts, other foods, histamine, and pet dander. You’ll also get recommendations about food substitutions and lifestyle changes you can make to help you avoid triggering sensitivities. However, this test is not designed to diagnose allergies. 
  • HomeDNA Healthy Weight ($159): This test analyzes DNA collected with a cheek swab to examine genes related to body weight, nutrition, metabolism, and more. In addition to a report on genetic markers in these genes, you’ll receive personalized dietary and exercise recommendations to help you reach your ideal weight. 
  • HomeDNA SkinCare ($139): Like the other HomeDNA tests, the SkinCare test requires mailing in a cheek swab. Genes related to seven major skin traits are analyzed, including collagen quality, skin elasticity, fine lines and wrinkles, sun protection, pigmentation, skin antioxidants, and skin sensitivity. For each trait, you will receive information about the genes tested, your risk, and recommendations about how to ameliorate your risk with topical treatments, oral supplements, or professional treatments. 

Review of HomeDNA Reporting Features

Let’s review HomeDNA reporting features. 

The HomeDNA Starter Ancestry Test is the least detailed. You’ll receive a report similar to the test results presented below, which will provide you with the percentages of your DNA that historically come from four regions of the world (Europe, the Americas, East Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa), as well as present-day countries whose populations are genetically similar to you. 

The results of the HomeDNA Starter Ancestry Test are not very detailed. From HomeDNA review.
The results of the HomeDNA Starter Ancestry Test are not very detailed.

The HomeDNA Advanced Ancestry Test provides you with more detailed information. You’ll get a printout showing you the top three historical populations that contributed to your genetic makeup, as well as maps of where these three historical populations lived, like the report seen below.

The Advanced Ancestry test results included percentages for the top 3 ancestries.
The Advanced Ancestry test results included percentages for the top 3 ancestries.

With the HomeDNA Advanced Ancestry Test, you’ll also receive maps of your maternal and paternal ancestors’ migrations, like the map shown below.

Historic migration routes of your maternal and paternal lines. From HomeDNA review.
Historic migration routes of your maternal and paternal lines.

The HomeDNA Food and Pet Sensitivity Test provides you with information about your genetic predisposition to sensitivity for gluten, lactose, cow milk protein, eggs, peanuts, other foods, pet dander, and histamine. The test results include information about the genes that were analyzed in order to reach these conclusions. 

HomeDNA Food and Pet Sensitivity test results.
HomeDNA Food and Pet Sensitivity test results.

HomeDNA Food and Pet Sensitivity test results.

The HomeDNA Healthy Weight report provides you with information about genes related to weight loss, food, nutrients, and exercise. The test tells you how you compare with the rest of the population in these categories. The results also include lists of analyzed genes. Based on your genetic makeup, you’ll receive personalized recommendations regarding nutrition and exercise, as well as specific diet and exercise plans. 

HomeDNA Healthy Weight test results.
HomeDNA Healthy Weight test results.

The HomeDNA Skincare Test provides you with a skin score on a scale from non-ideal to optimal for each of the seven major skin traits, as in the sample report below. You’ll receive information about the genes that were analyzed, what your score means, how you can reduce your risk with skin creams or serums, proper nutrition, and professional skin treatments.

HomeDNA skincare recommendations.
HomeDNA skincare recommendations. 

HomeDNA Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The tests, including the paternity tests, are available at drug stores like CVS and Walgreens across the United States, making it convenient to purchase them. You can also order online on the HomeDNA website.
  • Health and beauty tests come with personalized recommendations to maintain health and help you achieve your weight-loss goals.

Cons

  • Ancestry results, especially for the HomeDNA Starter Ancestry Test, are not very detailed.
  • Hidden fees/ HomeDNA costs: while the HomeDNA Paternity Test kit can be purchased for less than $30, the price paid later to process your DNA sample and obtain results is an additional $139.
  • The test results tell you which genes were analyzed but the information about specific genetic variants is not included. 
  • It does not allow you to find relatives based on genetic matches or search genealogy records. You cannot build your family tree or identify your last name origins.

Review of HomeDNA Privacy

Is HomeDNA safe? HomeDNA states that it does not sell or distribute private information, including any DNA results, to third parties. Your raw DNA data can be destroyed at any time upon request.

HomeDNA may create anonymous data sets by removing identifying information such as names. However, it is worth noting that there has been controversy about whether genetic data – which is highly personal – can ever truly be anonymized. The company “reserves the right to use anonymous data for any purpose in its discretion.” 

HomeDNA states that it may share all of your information with their parent company, any subsidiary, or any affiliates, including for marketing purposes. 

Regarding data security, HomeDNA states that “Although DDC attempts to protect the personal information in its possession, no security system is perfect, and DDC cannot promise that your personal information will remain absolutely secure in all circumstances.”

For HomeDNA paternity testing, your results are confidential. You will receive an email when the results are ready – you will then be able to log in to your securely encrypted online account to view them. 

It should be noted that at-home paternity testing is not allowed in the state of New York.

In the News

HomeDNA launched in July 2017, becoming the first company to offer at-home DNA testing kits in stores across the country. HomeDNA’s parent company, DNA Diagnostics Center, appointed Scott Cramer (formerly CEO of Accriva Diagnostics) president and CEO in February 2019. HomeDNA was also covered by a Seattle Times reporter in September 2018, who was skeptical of her results stating that 13% of her DNA was Sub-Saharan African and compared it to an Ancestry test that reported she was 100% European. 

HomeDNA Reviews

HomeDNA reviews vary widely depending on the product and review platform. The HomeDNA Paternity test was rated an average of 4.7 out of 5 by over 3,000 reviews on the CVS website. However, IDENTIGENE, as HomeDNA Paternity was previously known, received an average of only 3.6 out of 5 stars on DNAtestingchoice.com. Positive reviews state that the test is easy to use, comparatively inexpensive, and results are provided quickly. Criticisms include hidden fees, poor customer service, and failing to provide results. 

HomeDNA ancestry testing services were rated 3 out of 5 by PC Mag HomeDNA review and 4.4 out of 5 by ConsumersAdvocate.org, but only 2.6 out of 5 by 50 HomeDNA reviews on Amazon.

While HomeDNA’s parent company DDC has an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, they have a customer rating of 1.7 out of 5 on this site and 48 customer complaints. DDC was rated an average of 2.3 out of 5 by nearly 300 reviewers on Trustpilot and 3.1 out of 5 by nearly 200 reviewers on Google reviews.

Nebula Genomics

We finish or HomeDNA review with a comparison to Nebula Genomics and other DNA testing companies. There are several key ways in which Nebula Genomics is different from genetic testing companies like HomeDNA, 23andMe, and AncestryDNA. Nebula Genomics uses more advanced DNA testing technology and provides you with more genetic data than most other DNA testing companies. 

Even among other whole genome sequencing companies, Nebula genomics stands out for its advanced privacy protection. Customers love Nebula Genomics: the company received an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 200 reviews on Trustpilot.

Nebula Expand 

To access Nebula’s expanded DNA report, just upload raw DNA data from 23andMe or Ancestry and get access to free DNA analysis! Nebula Genomics uses a statistical technique called imputation to fill in gaps in regular DNA tests. Based on this expanded data, you’ll be able to access a report on hundreds of genetic traits. 

Whole Genome Sequencing

In the early 2000s, the first human whole genome sequencing cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Today, thanks to the genomic revolution, the whole genome sequencing cost at Nebula Genomics is less than $300. Nebula Genomics uses full genome sequencing to give you access to 100% of your genome, while services like HomeDNA, 23andMe, and Ancestry only read out about 0.1% of your genome – sometimes even less.  

When you purchase Nebula’s whole genome sequencing, you’ll also get access to the weekly updated Nebula Library and our genome exploration tools to search for specific genes or variants in your genome. 

Privacy is a priority

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your privacy for the chance to learn valuable information about your own genome; that’s why Nebula Genomics created the first privacy-focused personal genomics service. 

When you explore your genome with Nebula Genomics, you maintain ownership of your own genetic data. You’ll be given full data access to over 100 gigabytes of your personal genetic data. Nebula also connects you, the data owner, directly with potential third-party data buyers so that if you choose to share your genetic data you can receive compensation for it. The bottom line is that Nebula is committed to your privacy. 

Here’s how Nebula Genomics compares to 23andMe, Ancestry, and HomeDNA. 


23andMeAncestryDNAHomeDNANebula Genomics
Genetic data analyzed~600,000 positions in the genome~700,000 positions in the genome~80,000 autosomal genetic markers tested (HomeDNA Advanced Ancestry Test)~3,000,000,000 positions in the genome
Free DNA upload optionNoNoNoYes
Raw DNA data availableYesYesNot available for some productsYes
Oral microbiome profile NoNoNoYes
Weekly updates based on the latest discoveriesNo NoNoYes (learn more)
Paternity testing availableNoNoYesNo
Ancestry reportingYes, but based on relatively few genetic variantsYes, but requires sharing data with other Ancestry customersYes, but not very detailedDeep ancestry reporting with full Y chromosome and mtDNA sequencing in collaboration with FTDNA.
Privacy focusNoNoNo (read the privacy policy here).Yes (learn more)
Cost$99, $199, or $499$99 or $149$69-$159$0 – $299

HomeDNA vs. 23andMe; HomeDNA vs. Ancestry; HomeDNA vs. Nebula Genomics

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