AUSTIN (KXAN) - The state will destroy all DNA samples taken from newbornswithout parental consent between the years 2002 and 2005, officialsannounced Tuesday.
The movement settles a lawsuit filed by parents against theTexas Department of Health Services and Texas A&M for secretlystoring and doing research on newborn blood samples.
The destruction of 4.5 million samples will be complete within120 days.
Every baby in Texas is screened for 29 birth defects. Parents inthis lawsuit do not have a problem with that. But in 2002, thestate 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 formulain the hospital. I don't understand why you don't have to givepermission for the state to keep your kid's DNA," said AndreaBeleno, mother involved in the lawsuit. "I was really stunned, andI was very upset to learn that this was going on."
The plaintiffs said they never wanted money - they just wantedto state to be accountable and admit what was going on.
Part of the settlement means that the samples collected from2002 to May 27, 2009, in which the parents were not giving consent,will be destroyed.
The Departmentof State Health Services will post on its Web site a list ofall of the research and whether or not there was any financial gainas a result of using the specimens.
The Texas Department of State Health Services today issued thefollowing statement "regarding the recent settlement of a lawsuitabout the storage of dried bloodspots" from the state’snewborn screening program:
"DSHS believes settling this lawsuit is in the best interest ofthis program’s core mission to screen all newborn babies inTexas for life-threatening disorders. Newborn screening saveschildren’s lives, and settling this lawsuit allows us tocontinue operating this critical program.
"As a result of this settlement, DSHS will destroy all bloodspotcards received by the department before May 27, 2009, the datelegislation expressly authorized the storage and specified uses ofthe samples.
"DSHS is complying with all the requirements of thatlegislation, including the provision allowing parents to havebloodspots from their infants destroyed rather than stored. We willcontinue to be very sensitive to the privacy concerns of parentsand the confidentiality of all medical information.
"If parents don’t object, the department saves the samplesfor uses allowed under the new legislation – primarilyquality assurance and control purposes to ensure accuracy in labtesting and because the samples could provide an invaluableresource in researching new or more effective ways to prevent,diagnose and treat serious medical conditions that affect Texaschildren, including leukemia and birth defects.
"DSHS screens approximately 800,000 newborn specimensannually."
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