What happens to babies' blood samples, containing DNA, after testing?
Blood samples are taken from millions of babies each year to test for genetic disorders. Just like hair and nails, those dried blood spots contain DNA.
When new mom Stephanie Hisamoto’s physician brought up the testing she says she was all for it. As a first time parent, she relied on her doctor to guide her through the process. She believes the more information parents have the better.
“I thought no big deal. I didn't think anything of it. I was like sounds normal, yes, I would like to know if they could spot something early for sure,” said Hisamoto.
What she didn’t think about is what would happen to the sample after it was tested.
Newborn screening is a public health program to test babies for a long list of disorders.
Every state collects blood samples, some are stored for months and others are kept for years, depending on the state.
In Tennessee, that period is one year unless there’s a confirmed genetic disorder. In those cases, dried blood spots, containing DNA, are stored indefinitely.
According to health officials, the reason is so another sample doesn’t have to be taken in the future.
What happens next?
A spokesperson for the Association of Public Health Laboratories says they do not sell samples to private companies. After testing and the state’s storage period, they say the samples are destroyed.
A spokesperson for the organization shared the following statement with Channel 3.
“Newborn screening is the largest and most successful health promotion and disease prevention system in the country and is perhaps the fastest, safest way to help protect a baby against certain diseases and medical conditions.” It is possible to opt out of the testing depending on where you live.
To learn more about the program, visit this website. https://www.newsteps.org/
Parents can find additional information here.