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Boulder company offers DNA test to measure children’s predisposition for sports

DENVER — With so many sports options for kids, parents find themselves making a lot of decisions.

Now a Boulder company is offering a DNA test that it says can measure your child’s natural predisposition for a particular sport.

Atlas Sports Genetics offers the test for $169.

It looks for variants in each of the two ACTN3 genes.  The company claims a variant in both copies means a genetic advantage in endurance sports like long distance running.

One variant, they say,  means you’re best suited for mixed pattern sports that use strength and endurance like soccer or cycling.

According to the company, no variants means a kid is better suited for sprint, power and strength sports like football or weightlifting.

“It’s a test that’s really used for assessing where an individual might be best suited for a sport,” said Mike Weinstein, founder of Atlas Sports Genetics.  “If it turns out that they are say an endurance athlete, then that may be what they are more prone to be good at, and that may be what they want to be going into as a sport.”

He believes this could be one useful piece of information for families like the Stuarts in Aurora.

Kirk and Cheryl Stuart  have 12 year old triplets who are involved in a lot of different sports.  They spend afternoons driving between soccer, gymnastics, basketball and swimming.

At our request, the family agreed to give the kids the DNA test.  Kirk swabbed Jake, Sami and Abby’s cheeks, and we mailed in the tests.

Several weeks later the family got the results.  Abby’s results indicated a genetic advantage in endurance sports.  Sami’s indicated an advantage in mixed pattern sports, and Jake’s results suggested an advantage in sprint, power and strength sports.

The Stuarts say they had expected more similarities than differences.

“We were a little bit  surprised at the results,” Kirk said.

But, even if all their kids’ sports choices don’t fit neatly in the categories, the couple says they don’t plan on making any changes.

“The sports that they are in are a result of what they enjoy and what they like to do,” Kirk said.

That’s the right approach, according to local experts.

Doctors at CU School of Medicine say the test may be interesting, but they do not believe it is a meaningful indicator.

Matthew Taylor, a medical geneticist, says do not over interpret the information provided.

“If you are looking at it for which sports should I choose?  Which one would I be better at? Could I compete at a higher level in this versus that? I think that those data just are not there,” Dr Taylor said.

As for the Stuarts, they are taking this all in good fun.  The most important think to them is that their kids are having fun.