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Some States Are Keeping Infant DNA

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Baby footby Dr. Joseph Mercola,

In the US, virtually all newborn babies have their heels pricked when they’re between 24 and 48 hours old, typically before they leave the hospital. The purpose is to collect drops of blood to test for certain genetic, metabolic and congenital disorders, including phenylketonuria (PKU), cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease and others.

This newborn genetic screening started in the 1960s with screening for PKU and is now required in all 50 states, although each state runs its own program. Today, all states test for at least 29 disorders, with some testing for more than 60, but some health care providers may still refer to it as the “PKU test.” The conditions included are those that can be effectively treated when caught early, preventing death or disability.

Not only is this the only test babies receive that’s performed by the state department of health, but it’s also mandatory, except in some cases of religious exemption. Every year, nearly 4 million US babies receive newborn screening, and more than 5,000 are identified as having one of the screenable conditions.

Parents, in the hazy first hours after having a child, may or may not remember their baby receiving the heel prick — and won’t hear much else about it, unless their baby is diagnosed with one of the conditions. Yet, in some states, the blood drops taken from the child are not simply disposed of after the test.

Instead, they’re sent to storage facilities that, in some cases, keep them indefinitely, raising serious concerns about privacy, patients’ rights and the right of informed consent.


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