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HealthInfo Canterbury

Genetic testing

Children inherit many things from their parents – things like the colour of their hair, eyes, and skin, their body shape, and other physical characteristics. They inherit these things through their genes, which carry all the biological information that makes every person unique.

Sometimes people inherit certain conditions, or an increased risk of developing those conditions, from their parents. We can test for some of these conditions, and this is known as genetic testing.

There are many reasons why people are referred to a genetic clinic. It may be to:

You can find more information about genetic testing on this page on understanding genetic testing. And this page explains more about genetic counselling.

Online genetic testing

Websites offering genetic testing directly to the public are becoming increasingly common. However, the tests they offer are often not subject to proper clinical regulation and scrutiny, so the results they give may be misleading, unclear or inaccurate. They can also be harmful, prompting some patients to pay for unnecessary medical treatment, or falsely reassuring other patients.

Local geneticists do not recommend this type of testing. Instead, talk to your GP about whether it would be appropriate to refer you to genetic services.

In the South Island, all genetic referrals go to Genetic Health Service New Zealand's South Island hub, which is based in Christchurch. You can find out more information about Genetic Health Service New Zealand on its website.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

New Zealand sites

International sites

See also:

Inherited heart diseases

Compiled by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Approved by clinical leader, Genetic Health Service New Zealand – South Island Hub. February 2014

Sources

Page reference: 89206

Review key: HIGET-89206