The state will destroy all DNA samples taken from newborns …
Updated: Wednesday, 23 Dec 2009, 10:34 AM CST
Published : Tuesday, 22 Dec 2009, 1:32 PM CST
AUSTIN (KXAN) - The state will destroy all DNA samples taken from newborns without parental consent between the years 2002 and 2005, officials announced Tuesday.
The movement settles a lawsuit filed by parents against the Texas Department of Health Services and Texas A&M for secretly storing and doing research on newborn blood samples.
The destruction of 4.5 million samples will be complete within 120 days.
Every baby in Texas is screened for 29 birth defects. Parents in this lawsuit do not have a problem with that. But in 2002, the state decided to keep the blood samples, without the parents' consent, to use for research and other unnamed reasons.
"You have to give permission for them to give your kid formula in the hospital. I don't understand why you don't have to give permission for the state to keep your kid's DNA," said Andrea Beleno, mother involved in the lawsuit. "I was really stunned, and I was very upset to learn that this was going on."
The plaintiffs said they never wanted money - they just wanted to state to be accountable and admit what was going on.
Part of the settlement means that the samples collected from 2002 to May 27, 2009, in which the parents were not giving consent, will be destroyed.
The Department of State Health Services will post on its Web site a list of all of the research and whether or not there was any financial gain as a result of using the specimens.
The Texas Department of State Health Services today issued the following statement "regarding the recent settlement of a lawsuit about the storage of dried bloodspots" from the state’s newborn screening program:
"DSHS believes settling this lawsuit is in the best interest of this program’s core mission to screen all newborn babies in Texas for life-threatening disorders. Newborn screening saves children’s lives, and settling this lawsuit allows us to continue operating this critical program.
"As a result of this settlement, DSHS will destroy all bloodspot cards received by the department before May 27, 2009, the date legislation expressly authorized the storage and specified uses of the samples.
"DSHS is complying with all the requirements of that legislation, including the provision allowing parents to have bloodspots from their infants destroyed rather than stored. We will continue to be very sensitive to the privacy concerns of parents and the confidentiality of all medical information.
"If parents don’t object, the department saves the samples for uses allowed under the new legislation – primarily quality assurance and control purposes to ensure accuracy in lab testing and because the samples could provide an invaluable resource in researching new or more effective ways to prevent, diagnose and treat serious medical conditions that affect Texas children, including leukemia and birth defects.
"DSHS screens approximately 800,000 newborn specimens annually."