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Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy Opposes Destruction of 1 Million Blood Spots

1/14/14 (St. Paul, MN) – Following the Minnesota Department of Health's (MDH) announcement to begin destroying approximately 1 million newborn screening blood spots, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP) announced it was deeply concerned about the decision's dramatic and dangerous impact on child health.

"Saving newborn screening blood spots and test results are critical to saving lives," said Robert M. Jacobson, MD, FAAP, president of MNAAP. "Destruction of blood spots and data rob children and families of a tremendous, life-saving resource."

On Monday MDH announced it would begin destroying all blood spots received prior to November 16, 2011 that have been kept in secure storage since 1997. In 2012 the department was forced to slash the retention period for blood spots from 18 years to 71 days unless there is a positive or abnormal result. Those positive blood spots, along with all test results, must be destroyed by a child's second birthday.

"Storage of blood spots and data assure proper diagnosis and timely follow-up for critically ill children," Jacobson said. "What this ruling means for parents and guardians is that their child's doctor will no longer be able to contact MDH directly if the child's test results are urgently needed after age two. There will be no way to ensure families and providers have access to the results of the test or verify that testing indeed took place."

Furthermore, both the samples and data provide the basis for quality control and new test development. MDH was recently forced to delay testing for severe combined immune deficiency (SCID), for example, due to the unavailability of blood spots.

In addition to the destruction of older blood spots, MNAAP is deeply concerned about the new timeframes for destroying infant blood spots and test results. Destroying blood spots at the arbitrary 71-day time limit can risk an infant's health because it can take more than six months to confirm a diagnosis in some cases. Furthermore, destroying test results and positive blood spots at the arbitrary 2-year limit robs families of a diagnosis after re-analysis based on new discoveries that become apparent after the child ages, dies or has an affected sibling.

"The bottom line is that the information collected through newborn screening has saved more than 5,000 lives," Jacobson said. "MNAAP will do everything in its power to reverse these changes, restore the program, and save as many babies as possible from unnecessary death, disability and impairment.

"Minnesota's newborn screening program has long been viewed as a national leader. But court and legislative action since 2011 has left Minnesota as arguably the weakest state in the nation. In fact, Minnesota is the only state that destroys newborn screening results soon after birth. Legislators need to act to restore Minnesota's program so that we can lead once again."

Representing nearly 1,000 pediatricians and pediatric providers, MNAAP is committed to improving the health of all infants, children and teens in Minnesota. For more information, visit www.mnaap.org/newbornscreening.htm

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Melissa DeBilzan
Director of Communications
(651) 338-1823
debilzan@mnaap.org

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