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Will home DNA test give young athletes an advantage?

11:51 PM, May 17, 2012   |    comments
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WESLEY CHAPEL, Florida -- What if you could find out from a very young age which sports your kids are naturally best suited for?

An in-home genetic test claims it can gave you that competitive advantage. But there are questions about how much the test really reveals and whether parents should make decisions based on it.

For Connor Bennett, a freshman softball and volleyball player at Wiregrass High School, any edge could take her game to the next level. Growing up, though, she also played basketball and soccer.

However if her family could have figured out years ago that she was genetically best suited for softball, she could have concentrated more on that sport and maybe improved her chances of landing a college scholarship.

"It's so competitive around here, but that would be our hope for her," said her mom, Cari Bennett.

The Sports X Factor DNA test hopes to put athletes a step ahead of the competition. For $200, the home genetic test claims "the results could shape decisions parents, coaches, and trainers make about which sports are most appropriate for each specific child."

Bill Miller, CEO of AIBiotech, the Virginia-based company behind the test, told 10 News it's designed to evaluate what areas athletes are naturally gifted in and cater workouts based on that information.

"One size does not fit all.  We've gone away from that. It's time for us to go to this is my gene and this is my own makeup, and this is what I need to maximize my workout," Miller explained.

But there are many questions about the reliability of tests like this. Despite being on the market for more than a year now, the Sports X Factor is still not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

READ: The FDA's letter sent to the company

Other critics say while it may measure strength and stamina, it does not account for an athlete's effort, drive, or interest in a sport.

"It's definitely a fine line that, as a parent, you have to be very careful," Cari Bennett said.

10 News ordered one of the kits and put it to the test on Connor. All it required was a couple of cotton swabs of saliva from the inside of her cheek, and a small amount of paperwork, taking about 15 minutes to complete.

"It was very easy," the Bennetts said.

About two weeks after mailing it in, the results came back.

"I think some of it is so far out there in terms of the terminology, that it's hard to decipher exactly what it all means," Cari described.

What the test clearly indicated, though, is Connor scored very high in power and very low in endurance. That means she may not be naturally suited for sports requiring a lot of running, like soccer or basketball.

Connor says that makes perfect sense, because that's one of the reasons she gave up those sports.

"I think it's pretty accurate, because I really don't like running and endurance type things," she said.

"There's certainly, I think, a direct correlation to what they found and what she actually likes to do," Cari explained.

The company's CEO tells 10 News they have applied to get the test FDA approved.

To learn more about the test go to: http://www.sportsxfactor.com/

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