Patt Morrison for May 24, 2011

Genetically test your kids for “sports gene?”

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Geomangio/Flickr

Boys playing soccer.

As parents feel more and more pressure to give their children as many competitive advantages as possible, a couple companies are now offering, for just $200, a genetic test to determine which sports your child will be best at. Coming in the form of an online order and mail-in cheek swab, these tests tell you which percentile your child is in with regard to his or her potential for endurance training versus for speed and strength training. The results also reveal whether or not your child is genetically predisposed to be at risk for concussions and cardiac failure. However, geneticists are skeptical of just how accurate these readings are. Are genetic tests such as this sports gene test ready to be on the market? As mail-order and Internet DNA scans become more in demand, is it possible that more damage than good is being done with hard-to-read and possibly misleading test results? Could these sports gene tests help kids move towards success in sports more quickly and safely? Or will they mislead, mislabel, and possibly discourage kids who have athletic aspirations or who just want to have fun?

Guests:

Bill Miller, chief executive, American International Biotechnology Services in Virginia, which began selling genetic testing for sports genes two weeks ago

Vishy Iyer, associate professor, molecular genetics, University of Texas at Austin

Lainie Ross, MD, PhD, pediatrician and bioethicist, University of Chicago


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