Having a hard time deciding if you should push your child into sports? Genetic tests are available that claim to predict whether your kid has what it takes to be the next Peyton Manning or LeBron James. The tests, however, are not without their critics.
A report in London's Daily Mail said scientists have identified several genes that can point to sports stardom, such as strength, speed and other performance requirements. The testing itself is simple -- just scrape the inside of the child's cheek with a swab, send it back, then wait for the results.
"Our goal is to help people become the athlete they were born to be," said Nat Carruthers, the operations president of Atlas Sports Genetics, which has sold hundreds of kits (for $169) since 2008.
He added that the company does not want "to sound like we're telling parents what their kid should do and how good their kid will be. That's not at all our claim or desire."
However, commentary in the recent Journal of the American Medical Association was critical of the tests:
In the “winning is everything” sports culture, societal pressure to use these tests in children may increasingly present a challenge to unsuspecting physicians.
Co-author Dr. Alison Brooks, a pediatrician and sports medicine specialist from the University of Wisconsin, said the tests could be deceiving because there are several other genes that may play a role in athletic ability, not to mention other factors such as physical and mental traits and life experiences that could influence a child's athletic ability.
But she predicted that as science advances, "My guess is we're going to see more of this, not less."
These consumer genetic tests are unregulated, and on Wednesday a panel of experts met with the FDA to discuss whether regulation is necessary.