Genetic Testing For Kiddies


german-baby-myostatin1What if your kid has the goods to be the next Michael Jordan or Roger Federer…would you want to know?

Atlas Genetics, a Boulder-based company, introduced a take-at-home test last year that detects the presence of a variant of the ACTN3, a gene that blocks the expression of alpha-actinin-e, a protein present in a high percentage of first-class athletes.  If you have this genetic superstar blocker, odds are you’re more apt to be a ball boy than a major league slugger.  So much so that according to a study published by the American Journal of Human Genetics, a mere 6% of athletic superstars tested had this protein blocked on both maternal and fraternal sides.

Simply put, if your child wants to be a contender, he or she probably shouldn’t test positive for ACTN3.  And a simple cheek swab can let you know if they’ve got what it takes.

Some see a potential upside.  Maybe the time and cost involved in a traveling soccer team isn’t worth it in the end.   Or conversely, it would be nice to know that a university track scholarship could become reality and isn’t just a pipe dream.  Either way the genetic ball bounces, would you like to know?

Um, for me, no.  Genetic testing for anything other than health-related issues sets off my “eww” alarm.  Childhood is about exploring, discovering who you are and having fun.  If my basketball-loving kid tested positive for ACTN3,  I can promise you that I wouldn’t consider hoops to be a waste of time.  That freaky dad shouting out endless instructions to his Little Leaguer from the stands?  It scares me that he might.