Call Kurtis Investigates: CBS13 Tests Accuracy of DNA Heritage Companies With Quadruplets

SAN RAMON (CBS13) — With 11-year-old quadruplets, it’s chaos in the Jones household.

Gabe plays guitar, Zeb is the tech guy, Katie holds her own as the only girl, and Hugh is the athlete.

“They’re very different,” mom Amy said. “Very individualistic. They all have different likes dislikes, dress differently, different friends.”

Gabe and Zeb are identical twins. Katie and Hugh are fraternal twins.

Mom was surprised to learn she was 35 percent from Ireland when she did her own Ancestry DNA test through ancestry.com.

“That was a total shock. I was always told we were Dutch or British,” she said.

Although, she’s not so sure these tests are accurate.

It got us wondering what would happen if we tested her quadruplets?

We collected samples from each of the kids and sent them to AncestryDNA and 23andMe. To shake things up a bit, we also changed each of their last names to sound ethnic; Gabe Hernandez, Hugh McDonald, Katie Nguyen and Zeb Patel. We mailed in our samples separately so they wouldn’t all arrive together.

Close to two months later, we have our results.

23andmeall4 90 Call Kurtis Investigates: CBS13 Tests Accuracy of DNA Heritage Companies With Quadruplets

23andMe gives you the option of choosing the percentage of confidence. We chose 90 percent, which should give us the most accurate results, while the 50 percent and 70 percent show more of a probable breakdown of heritage based on the DNA databases.

23andme all4 70 Call Kurtis Investigates: CBS13 Tests Accuracy of DNA Heritage Companies With Quadruplets

Despite giving identical twins Gabe and Zeb very different last names, their results show identical heritage. Although fraternal twins Katie and Hugh show different results. In fact, Katie is nearly twice as British and Irish as the identical twins.

DNA expert Ruth Ballard who teaches at Sacramento State University says that’s to be expected. She says identical twins should have identical results, but fraternal twins may have inherited different percentages of heritage from each parent.

“Sometimes you get more of this. Sometimes you get more of that,” Ballard said. “It’s an estimate, but it gives you a pretty darn good idea where you come from.”

After eight weeks, in what AncestryDNA calls a 6-to-8-week long process, we only had three of the four results back.

ancestry side by side results Call Kurtis Investigates: CBS13 Tests Accuracy of DNA Heritage Companies With Quadruplets

It’s difficult to compare AncestryDNA to 23andMe, because the companies use different heritage breakdowns. For example, AncestryDNA breaks down British and Irish separately, and 23andMe clumps them together.

Although we were very surprised to see through the DNA alone, AncestryDNA linked the siblings to one another as “immediate family”. The site also identified Amy as their mother from her previous test.

“That actually surprised me a little bit with the change of their last name,” mom Amy said.

Both sites say they protect your DNA. They allow you to pick your privacy settings and delete your results. However, Dr. Ballard says you don’t want your DNA to get into the wrong hands. She says your DNA could tell an insurance company or employers the diseases you’re prone to, which she worries could keep someone from getting insurance or a job promotion. She suggests anyone with these concerns to avoid using these services, or to change their last name, much like we did with the quads.

Amy’s not so sure she trusts the accuracy of the ethnic percentages but says she is fascinated by the results.

“You never know where you come from until you start looking.”

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Comments

One Comment

  1. Ann Turner says:

    Kurtis, 23andMe will also identify the twins as identical or fraternal in the DNA Relatives section. In fact, DNA testing is much more robust for detecting close relations with specific people than it is for identifying general similarities with populations.

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