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TribBlog: DSHS Will Destroy Blood Spots

The Department of State Health Services will destroy all blood samples taken from infants before May 27, 2009 to settle a lawsuit over the state's newborn screening program.

The Department of State Health Services will destroy all blood samples taken from infants before May 27, 2009 to settle a lawsuit over 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," the agency said in a statement. "Newborn screening saves children’s lives, and settling this lawsuit allows us to continue operating this critical program."

For years, the state has been storing dried bloodspots taken from newborn babies to screen for diseases. But state law didn't expressly authorize storage and testing of the samples until late May of this year. A recent lawsuit challenged the state's right to store these blood samples.

Following this settlement, the state will be able to continue saving blood samples to research ways to diagnose and treat medical conditions, like leukemia and birth defects, as long as parents don't object. A provision in the law allows parents to have bloodspots from their infants destroyed rather than stored.

DSHS screens approximately 800,000 blood speciments from newborn babies every year.

Information about the DSHS Newborn Screening Program is available online at www.dshs.state.tx.us/newborn/default.shtm.

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