Sunday, July 21st, 2019

DNA From Newborn Blood Samples Being Sold for Research

Published on November 12, 2015 by   ·   No Comments
Vall d'Hebron Institut de Recerca VHIR/Flickr
Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recerca VHIR/Flickr

BIG BROTHER ALIVE AND WELL IN CALIFORNIA

Erin Elizabeth | Health Nut News

Every year millions of newborns throughout the U.S. get a small heel prick in order to take a blood sample which is then screened for congenital abnormalities. But what happens to that blood sample after those tests? If you were born in California in 1983 or later the California Department of Public Health – CDPH (or Big Brother) can tell you exactly what happened.

From the CBS article:

Turns out a non-descript office building in Richmond contains the DNA of every person born in California since 1983. It’s a treasure trove of information about you, from the color of your eyes and hair to your pre-disposition to diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Using these newborn blood spots for research, the state is able to screen babies for hereditary diseases. But the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is not the only agency using the blood spots.

On page 12 of the Newborn Screening Program brochure (found in the papers the hospital sends home with the new mom) is information describing how the state collects blood sample information and stores it in a CDPH database.

Most surprisingly, CDPH will sell the data to private companies for research purposes- without consultation, compensation, or permission- of the private parties involved. CDPH claims the blood samples are anonymized and can’t be tracked. However, that may not be the case, as Yaniv Erlich, a researcher with Columbia University and the New York Genome Center, states there is no way to guarantee the anonymity of DNA.

Erlich’s research demonstrated how easily anonymized DNA could be cross-referenced with online data and connected to a name. “You need to have some training in genetics, but once you have that kind of training the attack is not very complicated to conduct”, he said. Erlich feels there is benefit in sharing DNA information to advance biomedical research but does acknowledge the privacy risk.

Read More HERE

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