Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Genetic Tests for Children Determining Sports

Each professional, college, or little league athlete all put forth effort into training in order to succeed. Primary factors that affect sport performance include training factors and psychological factors. Training factors involves improving reaction times and motor skills, while also learning important techniques vital to each sport. Athletes also need to have the mental ability for sports as well. A high level of motivation and high level of competiveness are also required. However, one factor that one wouldn’t think of at first is the genetic factor. Genetics play a large role in how a person is built, and could determine how successful an athlete can be at any given sport without looking at their individual training programs and motivation.
Elite sports athletes are always expected to have a genetic predisposition for greatness, whether it is their height, their weight, or even the types of muscles their body is made up of. However, even children are now being looked at for their predicted potential for sports. Some children are going to grow up to become the next gold medalist at the Olympics while others will always try and may not succeed. An important factor in sports performance could be how their genes have already determined which sport they will excel at based on their ability to carry oxygen in their muscles.  
            Many news channels and newspapers have reported the use of a genetic test to test children’s genetic disposition for sports. Atlas Sports Genetics, an athletic talent laboratory analysis system, uses a genetic test to predict athletic strengths of children, to see which sports they are more likely to excel in.  
            They are swabbing mouths of children from infancy until eight years old for the presence of a specific gene. This gene is called ACTN3, and it has been linked to research on sport performance because it allows our bodies to produce a specific muscle protein found in fast twitch muscles, called alpha-actinin-3. The test that is available searches for variants of that gene that would prevent the protein from being made. The presence of the variants leads scientists and parents to find out which sport their child could have more athletic potential for. If a child who is swabbed has two copies of the variant, one in each copy of the gene from each parent, they are more likely to excel in endurance events because their body cannot make this protein that makes muscles contract forcefully at a high velocity. If they don’t have any copies of the variant in their gene, they are more likely to excel in sprint or power events, because their muscles would be able to contract forcefully when moving at a higher velocity. If they only have one copy of the variant, they can be equally good at endurance sports and sprint/power sports.  
            The use of genetic testing to determine children’s predisposition to sports has created controversy because of parents who would use the knowledge to place children in sports that they would excel at, not the ones that the child wants to participate in. They wouldn’t be clear-minded over There is also controversy surrounding the usefulness of the test, and whether the genes actually could determine sport performance. 

No comments:

Post a Comment