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HealthInfo Waitaha 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 in the recommended links below.

Online genetic testing

Websites offering genetic testing directly to the public are becoming increasingly common. Tests they offer may not have been thoroughly checked by local geneticists so the results they give may be misleading, unclear or inaccurate. They can also be harmful, prompting some people to pay for unnecessary medical treatment or falsely reassuring other people.

There are also privacy concerns about the genetic information these private companies collect from you.

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.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

See also:

Inherited heart diseases

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed September 2021.


Page reference: 89206

Review key: HIGET-89206