We write reports about traits when we have evidence that the trait can be predicted with a certain degree of accuracy based on genetics. We find these traits in two ways:
- Reviewing many scientific papers about the genetics of various traits.
- Using our own database of genotypes and survey data from hundreds of thousands of 23andMe customers who have consented to research, which allows us to discover statistically significant correlations between specific markers and specific traits.
The Trait reports are different from our Carrier Status reports*. Some of the variants we use in the Trait reports are from published studies, and some are from our own research using our database. In contrast to the Carrier Status reports, we don't require that these variants directly cause the trait of interest, only that there is a strong statistical correlation between the trait and the variant. For some of the trait variants, we do know a little more about how they work, but for most, we are only beginning to learn how and why certain variants are linked to certain traits.
By consenting to research and answering survey questions, our customers help grow the database of phenotypic data (traits, lifestyle, environment). The more data we have, the better we can fine-tune our models to make interesting trait reports in the future. We also hope to apply what we are learning about predicting traits to developing even more interesting features for our customers, including more health-related reports.
*The 23andMe PGS test uses qualitative genotyping to detect select clinically relevant variants in the genomic DNA of adults for the purpose of reporting carrier status and reporting and interpreting genetic health risks. The relevance of each report may vary based on ethnicity. Our carrier status reports can be used to determine carrier status, but cannot determine if you have two copies of any genetic variant. These carrier reports are not intended to tell you anything about your risk for developing a disease in the future or anything about the health of your fetus, or your newborn child's risk of developing a particular disease later in life. For certain conditions, we provide a single report that includes information on both carrier status and genetic health risk.