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Expert Calls At-Home Sport Genetic Testing Into Question

by Matrix Admin | Aug 01, 2011
Accuracy, ethics concerns raised by sports medicine professional

DENVER – An emerging trend in youth sports gives some experts cause for concern, according to a session being presented today at the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) 58th Annual Meeting and 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine®. At-home genetic tests for a child’s athletic aptitudes are raising ethical concerns – and a few eyebrows – among sports medicine professionals.

One expert presenting today shared several scientific and ethical concerns about these tests. DNA profiles are shared by family members and can also be predictive of disease risk factors, so adults are to be cautious. Because genetic counselors are not on hand to deliver the results, there is a risk of misinterpretation and misuse. Some believe testing could trump enjoyment with science in youth sports.

“There is little question that the genetic profile these companies return to the consumer is accurate – these are robust techniques,” said Stephen Roth, Ph.D., FACSM. “The real questions are whether or not the consumer is able to properly interpret the profile and whether or not children should use these tests to predict aptitudes in athletics.”

At least three separate companies sell these at-home tests online. Users simply take a cheek cell or saliva sample and send it to the company. The company then processes the sample and sends a genetic profile for the user to analyze and interpret from home.

“I would not recommend these tests for anyone except adult athletes seeking information for themselves out of curiosity, but I would remind those adults that the science is still shaky,” said Roth.

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The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 45,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.

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