How Do Hair DNA Tests Work?
Hair DNA Tests: How They Work?
DNA testing is a popular activity today. Most people embrace it because it helps relieve them of certain uncertainties. Or maybe they are curious about their family history thanks to the popularity of services like Ancestry DNA.
In medical practices, DNA helps health experts make the right lifestyle and medical decisions. DNA analysis works by studying the locations of your genomes.
This makes it easy to discover your ancestral gynecological relationships or estimate your ethnic mixture. In this article, we mainly focus on Hair DNA.
At the end of this article, you’re going to know what hair DNA test is, how it works, and what it can be used to reveal. Keep reading.
What is a Hair DNA Test?
The hair DNA test is also known as hair analysis. It’s a test in which a sample of someone’s hair is taken and then forwarded to the lab to measure its mineral content. Usually, hair analysis is done with the hair from the back of the neck.
It’s important to note that any shed or cut off hair cannot reveal an individual’s DNA information. This is because such types of hair lack nuclear DNA.
Because of this, it’s always recommendable that testing is done with hair, which still has the follicles in place.
How Long Does The DNA Last In The Hair?
One major confusing aspect of hair DNA testing is its shelf life. Now, the decay rate of a specific DNA is primarily impacted by how it’s stored/packaged. That means that DNA can live for only a couple of weeks or over 100 million years
Usually, if you leave a body in the rain, and sun, exposing it to different elements of heat, sunlight, oxygen and water, its DNA will only be viable for a short period. I.e. just a few weeks and it’s gone.
On the same note, if you bury the body just a few feet underground, it may survive for around 1000 to 10, 000 years. If you freeze the body in the Antarctic ice, it can last for a hundred thousand years or more.
For hair DNA test samples to stand the test of time, it requires that it gets dried then vacuum packed, and then frozen to around -80Celsius.
How Does Hair DNA Testing Work?
Before getting into how it works, it’s worth mentioning that this activity is commonly done in checking if some people could be blood relatives. An example is in paternity test where the doctor will take the samples of both the parent and the baby.
For valid results, the doctors/scientists commonly use select chemicals in testing the specimen hairs. They also review the hair under the microscope.
During the hair DNA testing process, the hair can be pulled up together with its roots or even cut from the scalp. The method of hair removal here may, however, vary depending on the intended test to be done on the hair.
There are tests which will require at least 3″ long hair lock with an approximate width size of a pencil. For curly hair, you may be required to submit hair that averages a cotton ball size.
There are also tests which will require using hair that’s attached to its roots. During the tests, the lab will also request for information on the hair products you’ve been using, e.g. dyes, shampoos and hair straighteners etc.
This is because there are chemicals which can affect the final results of the tests. After submitting hair samples, it will be washed to get rid of oils and sweat etc.
It may then be ground into powder or cut into small pieces for chemical analysis or viewed under the microscope.
What Can Hair DNA Test Reveal About You:
Hair DNA testing uses multiple techniques in analyzing human hair. The results obtained here show your health information and habits etc.
Here’s a breakdown of the information that hair analysis can reveal:
- Heavy metals poisoning.
- Family linkages.
- Drug use.
- Genetic disorders.
- Police pieces of evidence, and
- Alopecia, among others.
Bottom Line-Is Hair DNA Testing Right For Me?
Hair DNA testing is a very resourceful tool. It cannot only help you detect strains of genetic disorders in your family line but can also help you discover a blood relative.
Nonetheless, the tests can also be flawed by errors. For reputable results, it’s usually recommendable that you take multiple tests then compare the results.