The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) must now destroy about 1.1 million infant blood samples following the settlement of a lawsuit over the storage and use of newborn screening results.
In Nov. 2011, the Minnesota Supreme Court said MDH couldn't keep the samples for public health research, including testing for inherited or metabolic disorders, without consent of the newborn's parents, and the samples have been held in storage under court order since that time.
Now, MDH and newborn screening partners will operate the screening program under a revised legislative statute that says MDH can hold blood spots that have all negative test results for 71 days. Blood samples that have a positive or abnormal test result are kept for two years from the date they were received by MDH to allow for follow-up testing and services. All blood spot test results are held for two years, to comply with federal requirements, and then destroyed, unless the parents allow MDH to hold onto them.
"With the lawsuit behind us, we will now be able to devote our resources to operating and advancing the newborn screening program to ensure a healthy start in life for Minnesota babies," Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in an MDH news release. "Newborn screening is an important public health program serving all Minnesotans."
According to the release, more than 5,000 Minnesota infants were found to have rare medical disorders through newborn screening and were able to receive early treatment that prevented serious complications or death since 1965.