EDITOR'S NOTE: KSDK approached the Barton family about their willingness to participate in the Sports X Factor test. KSDK also paid for both tests.
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Genetic tests can do anything from determining paternity to proving someone's guilt or innocence. But can your genes tell you if you or your kids could be among the top athletes? There are all kinds of athletic assessment tests available. Our I-Team put one to the test.
We got the kits from a company called AI Biotech. It's calledSports X Factor and it is marketed as an affordable and easy way to see if you have the genes you need for the sports you love.
Jim Barton is a basketball coach at De Smet Jesuit High School and a father of four, a family full of athletes.
"If they don't have practice, they're working out. I'm coaching it. Mom's running around one of them so I mean it's, besides school, it's everything we do," said Jim.
Daughter, Mary, is a sophomore starter at St. Joseph's Academy. Son, Jimmy, is a senior at De Smet and both are proven athletes.
"They do have it in their blood. It's what they want to do. It's what makes them who they are. It's like the race horse that wants to run, they wanna play," said Jim.
If it's in their blood, is it thanks to their genes? According to its website, for $200, the Sports X Factor test can asses an athlete's genetic performance, even genetic risk factors for things like concussions or heart conditions.
We asked Jim if he would allow us tosee what Jimmy and Mary's genes say about them. It turns out, the results on paper support their performances on the court.
Jimmy ranked in the 85th percentile for power and 30th for endurance. Mary's score put her in the 80th percentile for power and 25th for endurance. Both reports scores were "weighted very high for power and speed."
They also did not have a genetic marker tied to concussions.
"They've hit their heads tons of, lot of times and never had a concussion," said Jim.
Dr. Sessions Cole is Chief Medical Officer at St. Louis Children's Hospital. He warns to not take these types of results and assume your child will be a star athlete.
"We all know that the potential of children is not limited by, necessarily, what they inherit from their mom and dad," said Dr. Cole.
A.I. Biotech representative Tom Reynolds agrees. He works for the company that developed Sports X Factor.
"It's arbitrary based on providing some kind of real, tested number where you can go out on the field and say, 'This person with this score is going to run this speed. It's not that; the genetics doesn't convert over scientifically that way. But it just provides people information they can use," said Reynolds.
Dr. Cole does caution you to be careful about where you send your DNA and make sure the information from that DNA is held as confidential.
In 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. It prohibits health insurance companies from denying you coverage should genetic testing show you're at an increased risk for a disease.
For the Bartons, the tests showed them what they already know. But for dad, the only thing that matters is the kids are happy. "If one of my kids wants to go sing and dance and that thing says they can't, I'm still going to go clap and say they did a great job, right?"
The basic Sports X Factor test is $200. But if you want more information, costs could more than double. Turnaround is about five days from the time they reach the lab. For the Bartons, it took one month and a few phone calls before they got the results by e-mail.