Testing Children for Sporting Ability Genes

Testing Children for Sporting Ability Genes

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted January 8, 2009 in DNA Testing

track and field Word of warning if you’re thinking about “encouraging” your child to take up a sport based on his/her genetic test results.

In February 2008, a 15-year-old Singaporean boy committed suicide by jumping from his family’s 11th floor apartment. He had become a track and field star at his secondary school and was being pressured to continue the extra-curricular activity even though he wanted to pursue drama instead.

Parents walk a tightrope every day. We either feel that we’re too soft on our children or that we pressure them too much. Push them too little and they may fail to achieve their full potential. Push them too much and they rebel and go the opposite way, sometimes ending in tragedy.

With genetic test results in hand, parents may feel tempted to wave it in the child’s face and say, “But you can’t give up! Your destiny is here. You have two copies of the ACTN3 gene. You were born to be a track and field star.”

But sometimes, what’s in your genes isn’t in your heart. I’d rather my children followed their heart.



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Comment by Barry

Nice to have you back. I had stopped looking but on a lark decided to have a peek today.

I wrote a blog on this the other day but hadn’t heard about this poor kid in Singapore. As parents we definitely have to be careful where we push our kids. We want them to follow their heart but we want them to be successful too…

Hi, Barry! Great to hear from you.

There’s no doubt we all want our kids to be successful but hopefully we are open-minded about what qualifies as success. Let’s see how I feel in 10 years’ time!

Comment by Alberto Subscribed to comments via email

I think direct to consumer genetic testing on children in simply unethical violating their right to decide as adults if to know something and what to know.

Alberto, Thanks for the comment. That’s the crux of the issue, isn’t it? Are we taking away a fundamental right from our kids by having them tested in their childhood?


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