Can a genetic test predict the sport your child should play? - WSMV Channel 4

Can controversial genetic test predict the sport your child should play?

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

In today's world of sports fanatics and intense competition, many parents hope they are raising the next Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning or Wayne Gretzky.

A genetic test now allows parents to find out how their child's DNA stacks up against elite level athletes.

Colorado company "Atlas Sports Genetics" claims the simple test can show parents if their child is best suited for endurance sports like marathons and cycling or sprint, power and strength sports like speed skating and football.

After swabbing the inside of the mouth, the swabs are sent to a lab in Australia.

Nat Carruthers, Operations President with Atlas Sports Genetics, says the test looks at the ACTN3 gene.

"You get one copy from your mother and a copy from your father," said Carruthers.

This ACTN3 gene is a gene that researchers have connected with elite athletic performance.

Carruthers said while everyone has two copies of ACTN3, it's the presence or absence of a variant gene within ACTN3, known as R577X, that research shows can determine the way someone's muscles respond.

If the variant is not present in either copy of your ACTN3 gene, the company said this is seen more frequently in elite level athletes in sprint, power and strength sports.

If the variant is present in both copies of your ACTN3 gene, this is more common in elite level athletes who compete in endurance sports.

And if the variant is present in one of the two copies of your ACTN3 gene, the company states you may be equally suited for sprint and endurance sports.

Dr. Brandon Downs, sports medicine orthopedic surgeon with Centennial Medical Center, said you should interpret the results with caution.

"I think there's certainly a potential for harm. You want to encourage your child to play the sports that they enjoy," said Downs. "They may enjoy that sport for a lifetime and get a lot of pleasure out of it, even if they don't become a professional athlete or even a college athlete.

"This is one gene and there's over 20,000 genes in each genome, so it's certainly one very small piece of information of a very large complex puzzle."

Carruthers told Channel 4 the test was designed to enhance a person's ability to train smarter and train better and not inhibit someone's athletic decisions.

For information, click to access the Atlas Sports Genetics website. 

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