Hitting the Ground Runnin'!!

Henry Heidlage

Summary

In this article, it reviews the results of a test that was done with mice. Dr. Robert A. Waterland performed the experiment and for his experiment he compared the offspring's activity level as compared to the level of activity of their mother. The female mice were genetically similar to one another and were split up into two groups, one with a running wheel the other without. Prior to becoming pregnant and during the pregnancy the group that was provided a running wheel would run and walk even into the third trimester. The mice that were born to mothers who were given the running wheels were shown to be 50% more active than the offspring of those who's mothers did not have a running wheel. Dr. Waterland stated, "Although most people assume that an individual's tendency to be physical active is determined by genetics, our results clearly show that the environment can play an important role during fetal development."

Critique

Even though this article has some "big" names to report to them their results, such as Dr. Waterland and the Baylor College of Medicine researchers, it is a far stretch to compare the results from the test performed on mice and expect the same results to happen for humans. As humans procreate, the gene pool will continue to expand while in this test it was carefully controlled and only mice that "enjoyed" running were selected. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, what about the genetic influence of the father for the offspring? Was there only one male that provided the sperm to produce an offspring in all of the offspring? Or were there multiple male mice that impregnated the female mice? These variables would ruin the credibility of this article. With multiple male sperm being used, it would make the variation of genetic variability too great and would lose its validity. Even with only one male mouse providing the sperm, during crossing-over of the DNA and the importance of dominant and recessive traits, you would have to use a huge test group of mice in order to empower the results that were recorded. In this article there is no evidence to support that the group used for this experiment was greater than lets say 20 mice per group. If the results were the same using 10,000 mice per group then it would be more valid and also would have genetic variation accounted in the results. At the beginning of the article, it also tries to tie in the connection between this experiment and "observational studies" that were performed with adult females. To those less knowledgable that sounds very "sciency" so they would believe this to be true. That is far from the truth though and is misleading the general population. An observational study does not have much validity because there are so many different variables that are not accounted for and is no truly measurable result or a result that can be compared to a control group. Regardless of these issues, theres no way for this experiment to gain traction. If there was ever a chance to get a large enough group of pregnant human females to participate, the results would be too skewed to be valid. The genetic variation of each child would be too great for them to be able to directly link physical activity during pregnancy to have an effect on the physical activity of the offspring. Not only the genetic variation of the children but the environmental influences would play too much of a role on the physical activity of the offspring. This would cause the validity of the study to crumble and the results would mean nothing.