👶 Newborn blood samples required by law

🔬 NJ keeps them for years without parental consent

⏳ Lawsuit resumes after talks stall


A federal, class action lawsuit has resumed, seeking to have New Jersey's storage policy for newborn blood samples declared unconstitutional.

SEE ALSO: NJ parents sue the state over keeping, using baby blood samples

NJ newborn blood sample storage lawsuit (Texas Department of State Health Services via Youtube)
NJ newborn blood sample storage lawsuit (Texas Department of State Health Services via Youtube)
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The suit was filed in November, when the state Attorney General’s Office said it was interested in “fixing” the procedure, Institute for Justice attorney Brian Morris said to New Jersey 101.5.

Negotiations began to craft a constitutionally permissible solution, he said.

From the Institute’s perspective, that would be to ask parents for consent as they take the newborn blood sample for testing, explaining the reasons for keeping it.

If parents agreed to it, the state would then store the sample.

“Recently it became clear to us that the state Attorney General’s Office wasn’t really interested in fixing the program, in the way that the Institute thought it needed to be fixed,” Morris said.

The lawsuit also requests that New Jersey first seek informed consent from legal guardians to store such newborn blood samples for “specific, identified purposes.”

The OAG did not have comment on the resuming lawsuit as of last week. A spokesperson for the state Health Department previously said they do “not comment on pending litigation.”

Because it is a class action suit, families do not have to do anything to join to be represented.

Morris said that anyone looking to voice concerns over the storage of blood samples can contact state officials or their state legislators.

Institute for Justice on NJ newborn blood samples (Canva, Townsquare Media)
(Canva, Townsquare Media)
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Baby blood sample storage sparks state-by-state concern

Under state law, newborns are required to have blood drawn and tested for at least 61 diseases including cystic fibrosis, hormonal deficiencies and other immunity issues.

The NJDOH Newborn Screening Laboratory tests “more than 110,000 dried blood spot samples each year from newborns in New Jersey,” according to its website.

All states perform similar tests and the lawsuit does not take issue with the initial genetic analysis and health screening, Morris has said, but rather the storage of the blood spot cards without any parental consent.

“The state of New Jersey keeps record of bloodspot screening results for 23 years,” according to the NJDOH website, in response to a question about families moving out of state who might need to access a child’s screening results.

Texas, Minnesota, and Michigan have all faced similar lawsuits.

A 2009 lawsuit in Texas led to the state destroying 5.3 million blood samples. All blood samples taken after 2012 must be destroyed after two years in Texas.

In Minnesota, a 2014 settlement ordered that 1.1 million blood samples be destroyed.

Michigan agreed in 2022 to destroy 3 million blood spots. That lawsuit is still active.

 

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