Newborns' Blood Used to Build Secret DNA Database
Ewen Callaway writes on New Scientist:
Texas health officials secretly transferred hundreds of newborn babies' blood samples to the federal government to build a DNA database, a newspaper investigation has revealed.More here.
According to The Texas Tribune, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) routinely collected blood samples from newborns to screen for a variety of health conditions, before throwing the samples out.
But beginning in 2002, the DSHS contracted Texas A&M University to store blood samples for potential use in medical research. These accumulated at rate of 800,000 per year. The DSHS did not obtain permission from parents, who sued the DSHS, which settled in November 2009.
Now the Tribune reveals that wasn't the end of the matter. As it turns out, between 2003 and 2007, the DSHS also gave 800 anonymised blood samples to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) to help create a national mitochondrial DNA database.
This came to light after repeated open records requests filed by the Tribune turned up documents detailing the mtDNA programme. Apparently, these samples were part of a larger programme to build a national, perhaps international, DNA database that could be used to track down missing persons and solve cold cases.