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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 the Australian Centre for Genetics Education's pages understanding genetic testing and genetic counselling.

Online genetic testing

Websites offering genetic testing directly to the public are becoming increasingly common. But 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 don't 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.

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See also:

Inherited heart diseases

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical leader, Genetic Health Service New Zealand – South Island Hub. Last reviewed April 2018.

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Page reference: 89206

Review key: HIGET-89206