posted on Feb, 26 2009 @ 07:54 PM
Babies’ blood used in research without parents’ OK
Samples screened for birth defects then stored indefinitely for scientific study
By MARY ANN ROSER
Feb. 24, 2009, 12:35AM
AUSTIN — For almost seven years, the state has been indefinitely storing blood from nearly all newborns in Texas without their parents’ consent
for possible use in medical research.
The blood is collected as part of a 44-year-old state-mandated newborn screening program in which hospitals, birthing centers and midwives draw blood
from a baby’s heel — parental consent isn’t required for that, either — so the state can test for a host of birth defects. The state either
discarded the blood after six months or, more recently, stored it for three years before destroying it.
But starting in 2002, the state health department began collecting and keeping blood indefinitely for current or future medical research, a practice
that has been the subject of a legal challenge in Minnesota.
Five dots of blood are collected on paper for the screening and then stored.
Under the health department’s policy, the samples can be used by the medical community for things such as cancer research, birth defects studies and
calibration of lab equipment, said Doug McBride, spokesman for the Department of State Health Services.
The law doesn’t require that parents be told how the blood might be used. But if parents are aware of the blood draws, Texas law lets them opt out
only for religious reasons.