Genetic Testing For Sports: Would You Swab Your Child's Cheek?

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Here & Now Guest: Geneticist Robert C. Green

At least two companies are now selling tests that, from a cheek swab, will assess an athlete's performance potential, enabling parents to decide whether their child is training for the right sport in the right way. Some of the tests also reveal whether an athlete is prone to heart problems or concussions. Critics say the trend is disturbing because results can be misinterpreted.

Speaking on WBUR's Here & Now, geneticist Dr. Robert C. Green said "An individual's athletic ability is made up of so many things: training, growth, other genetic factors,  inspiration, mental ability, coordination, that it's just a complete disservice to the consumer to say that this tells you anything meaningful about an individual's athletic ability."

In a statement Bill Miller, CEO of AIBioTech, the maker of  the Sports X Factor test had this to say:

“AIBioTech believes that everyone has a right to their genetic information and if they can use it as a platform to make informed decisions, they should have that option. Scientists with over 20 years of experience in genetics developed our scoring system to make the results as easy to understand as possible, and we encourage anyone who finds risk factors in their results to consult their family doctor. Overtime, as with any scientific or medical development, we know these tests will advance. But for the time being, we know there is no suitable alternative, so we have gone to market with Sports X Factor to give people access to their genetic information if they want it.”

This segment aired on May 20, 2011.


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