The Indiana State Department of Health has been collecting babies’ blood and DNA without their parents’ permission since 1991, according to an investigation by a local news station. Now the state wants to know what to do with the blood samples.
When a baby is born in Indiana, as with other states, the state conducts a newborn screening test. A nurse or midwife takes a few drops of blood from the heel of each infant. The blood is collected on a specialized filter paper, which is then sent to the state’s Newborn Screening Lab in downtown Indianapolis.
At the lab, researchers conduct tests on the blood for more than 50 medical disorders, including hypothyroidism, sickle cell disease and conditions where a child is unable to process certain nutrients. Parents and doctors are then notified of the results.
“All babies are screened, even if they look healthy, because some medical conditions cannot be seen by just looking at the baby,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. “Finding these conditions soon after birth can help prevent some serious problems, such as brain damage, organ damage, and even death.”