Genealogy and DNA Testing

Updated: Jul 10


What is your genetic makeup? Have you ever had your DNA tested?

In the genealogy world, DNA testing is becoming more common. For $99, I ordered a do-it-yourself kit by mail from a company called 23andMe. We sent our spit for analysis and the results are supposed to arrive within six weeks.


23andMe sends nearly 200 reports to help map your genetics. They are working to discover genetic factors behind diseases and traits and learn about human migration and population history.

Scientists explain some health issues and genetic disorders through our DNA, which is passed down through the generations. As for genealogy information, the test cannot give a printout of your entire family tree but it can give us clues to our ethnic origin, see if you are related to others with the same surname, and determine if two people are related. They even send information about Neanderthal percentage.

Researchers are very interested in “snips” (SNPs) and how they impact our health. Many SNPs are involved with immune system diseases like arthritis and lupus plus other diseases such as breast and prostate cancer. Discoveries could help researchers understand diseases, develop drugs or other treatments, or predict a person’s risk of disease so we can work towards better health. The 23andMe topics include simple traits such as hair color or freckles, serious diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or diabetes, and other conditions such as migraine headache or response to over-the-counter drugs. 23andMe uses a range of procedures to protect your personal information. Some people are nervous about privacy and others really do not understand the craze or simply don’t see the need for DNA testing. Many people could care less about their genealogy, too.

23andMe is named after the 23 pairs of chromosomes that are in each cell. You inherit one chromosome in each pair from your mother and one from your father. Every person is unique just like snowflakes so you may not have the same physical traits of either parent. Humans of different regions share many of the same genetic markers.

I am looking forward to getting the reports and information from 23andMe. Will my DNA show Icelandic, Irish, Scottish, or Norwegian? Do I have Neanderthal genes? Let me know if you have had your DNA tested and what you learned from your test.


Icelandic Roots is a non-profit, educational, heritage organization specializing in genealogy, history & traditions of our Icelandic ancestors.

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