Minnesota’s state health department has this week begun to destroy blood samples that are routinely collected to diagnose serious inherited and congenital diseases in newborn babies. It was compelled to do so by a state Supreme Court decision that such samples cannot not be stored or used for anything except diagnosis without the informed consent of the parents.

“We’re going to begin destroying a valuable public health resource, the residual blood spots from about 200 babies born in Minnesota each day,” said Edward Ehlinger, Minnesota’s health commissioner, in a press release on 31 January. He warned that the new policy “will compromise our ability to assure the quality and accuracy of the newborn screening program”. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will now actively ask parents for consent to store blood spots collected from infants who have been diagnosed with one of the 53 diseases tested for, and automatically destroy samples from children who have been given the all-clear.

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