Blood vs. Saliva: Which DNA Test Is Right for You?
If you’re considering submitting to a DNA test, it’s natural to want to look for ways to maximize the accuracy of your test results—whether you’re looking to prove paternity or receive information about your genetic predispositions for illness. Although many laboratory services won’t give you a choice in how to submit your DNA sample, it’s still a good idea to learn a little more about the blood DNA testing versus saliva tests.
Blood DNA Testing
Although using a blood sample to perform a DNA test may have once been the standard, it’s not the only way to get accurate test results. When it comes down to it, DNA is DNA, regardless of whether it comes from a saliva sample or from the blood. Since a blood draw isn’t something the average American is expected to know how to do at home, using blood for a DNA test will require the inconvenience of visiting a medical professional.
Saliva DNA Testing
Since the DNA in your saliva is the same DNA found in your blood, many mail order laboratories opt for the convenience of saliva testing. Of course, it is necessary to follow the prescribed protocol for preserving your saliva before you send it in if you want the most accurate results. For many people, the amount of saliva required for the test can be difficult to create in a single sitting. Although it may be possible to refrigerate your sample between attempts to fill the tube, always carefully read the instructions.
Once you’ve collected the requisite amount of saliva—usually by spitting in a test tube until your sample reaches a certain line—you’ll have a stabilizing solution to mix into the tube. This will keep your DNA sample viable as it travels through the mail to the DNA testing facility.
Costs of Testing
While a saliva test is usually less expensive to submit to than a blood test, the ultimate final cost of your lab work will vary based on the DNA testing facility you use and the purpose of the test. For instance, it usually costs 10 times as much to have your exome sequenced to look for genetic mutations than it does to have an ancestry company perform a genotype to determine where your ancestors lived. If you’re submitting to a DNA test as part of a medical research study, the cost of the DNA test should fall on the company or foundation conducting the research.