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African American DNA Research Forum

DNA-based genealogy test reveals infertility

From New Scientist Print Edition. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.

MEN who delve into their family history by having their DNA analysed could find out more than they bargained for - that they are infertile, for example.

Many companies offering genealogical testing screen male customers' DNA for a region of the Y chromosome called DYS464 that happens to be linked with infertility. If it is missing, it's odds-on that the customer is infertile.

Companies should either stop looking at DYS464 or warn customers beforehand that it could reveal infertility, says Mark Jobling of the University of Leicester, UK. "I think it's daft to type DYS464," he says. "People are buying a genealogy test but end up getting a fertility test." A study by Jobling's team suggests that 1 in 1000 men has the deletion (Journal of Medical Genetics, vol 42, p 366).

Alastair Greenshields, head of the company DNA Heritage in Weymouth, Dorset, says that his company recently began warning potential customers on its website that the test could reveal infertility. "If people really don't want this marker, then we would drop it." But many customers actively demand it because it helps to establish lineage, Greenshields says.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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