My daughter sent me the following article the other day. She put in the subject line: Interesting. When my daughter says that something is interesting, what she really means is she knows I’ll have some sort of opinion about it.

https://newjerseymonitor.com/2022/07/13/newborn-screening-program-used-to-aid-criminal-investigation-public-defender-says/

I’ll summarize the article:

  1. Babies born in New Jersey have a blood sample taken from them within 48 hours so that it can be tested for rare and potentially serious conditions
  2. A small amount of dried blood remains and those records can be retained for 23 years
  3. Unable to get a warrant for a person of interest, the Police used a subpoena to obtain the blood sample so they could look for a DNA link to the suspect, the Father of a child born in NJ

The NJ supreme court did limit the power of authorities to use DNA evidence collected like this, but this doesn’t mean things like this will necessarily be over.

So the thought/discussion points for today are:

  1. Should blood screening be mandatory for newborns: should it be recommended but not required. Is it the states business to require this, or should it be left up to the parent? Is this a violation of the civil liberties of the child?
  2. Should everyone be required to have fingerprints and DNA evidence of file to prevent/solve crimes?
  3. Should you be able to get DNA evidence of a person of interest any way that you can?
  4. Is DNA evidence infallible?
  5. As science/tech gets more advanced, should we limit its uses and how?
  6. Is solving a crime more important than anything else?

Discuss:

79 thoughts on “DNA

  1. That’s a PKU test. Standard in most states I believe but parents can decline it- although I think most don’t know that or simply choose not to. As to the holding samples for years…interesting is a good word.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m assuming there’s some sort of protocol for keeping records/samples…most probably to do with law suits if the baby ends up with a condition that was supposed to have been checked for…but yeah…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Whenever I read stories like this, I can always see how it can be used for both good and not so good. I suppose much of the technology in our world is the same. It just makes me ask more questions. The main one being, does the good that can be done outweigh the bad that it can also be used for? I don’t know, but I tend to learn towards people, in this case the parents, being able to decide for themselves. Freedom to choose continues to be a topic on my mind a lot these days😏😉💚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We are already very far down this DNA road… huge privacy issues!!! Ancestry and other DNA genealogy sites have been used to solve crimes (which…I know we need to catch criminals but using DNA from family and friends… NOT a fan of my DNA for that!).
    Not for mandatory blood samples at birth or DNA collection.
    Too much of our private information is out into the World if you ask me.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. In the PKU situation which someone mentioned above—I can see how this is a public health issue and it benefits the very small amount of babies affected by it to test everyone. People that have it have to live on special diets, the babies have to have special formula.

    I have Rh- blood—so I think it is always customary in those situations to test the babies to see if they are negative or positive. I had to receive a Rhogam shot to prevent potential complications in future pregnancies resulting from that situation.

    The Cedar Journal already mentioned the Ancestry angle. I did the Ancestry testing. My husband would not–he was too conspiracy theory minded to do it.

    Not exactly newborn DNA related but did anyone watch Our Father on netflix? Super creepy. A fertility doc used his own semen dozens of times in procedures.

    I would think some legal precedents should be set in this matter.

    I think I had to do a print of my left thumb years ago when I took my nursing boards. Have no idea what the purpose was or who has access to that info,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I worked in finance…I’ve been finger printed so often that I’m not quite sure who has my prints. I heard about that Doctor!! Crazy!

      Like

  5. I wanted to refresh my memory on this subject. There is a website called babiesfirsttest.org. You can find out what tests are done in your state—not all of them are blood tests. I found out that in my state parents are allowed to opt out of the testing but not in New Jersey which was mentioned in the article posted.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am in favor of the newborn screening. I think hospitals should be required to make the screening available and standard practice. Parents should be able to opt out (though I think opting out is not a wise choice).

    However, keeping/using the blood sample beyond its original, intended purpose is a violation of the privileges we have grown accustomed to–medical privacy/bodily autonomy, and I believe is completely wrong.

    Unless DNA is compromised or contaminated, it is as infallible as any test we have available. Nothing is 100% but DNA matches come pretty close.

    Oh, yes…the uses of science/tech should be limited. Just because we CAN do something, doesn’t mean we SHOULD do something.

    Solving crimes is important, but I don’t think using the DNA of a non-suspect to catch a criminal without the explicit permission of the non-suspect is ok.

    I also agree with Tater…if you willingly deposit your DNA with a company for the purpose of finding kinship matches you should assume it will be used for that purpose by police.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agree on new born screening…I did every test available both when pregnant and when my daughter was a newborn. I agree with DNA being good, but I still worry about it’s use…I don’t know if it’s infallible, which worries me. Thank you for great comments

      Liked by 1 person

  7. LA,
    I don’t have a problem with this testing. Both my children and grandchildren had the pku test when they were born. I’d rather that info be available in case of an emergency than not have the information.

    When my youngest son (who is now 33) was in kindergarten, parents were asked if they wanted to have their child fingerprinted by the local police in a new city wide program.
    The police came by our school, took a picture of each child, and took fingerprints. We were sent a card with that information on it and if something ever happened to our child they could be located more easily. I chose to do it and so did 99% of the parents in the school.

    I’ve also done my DNA on ancestry. I Found long lost relatives and even found the only surviving French cousin on my father’s side who survived the holocaust. ( the rest died in Auschwitz). So I love all the possibilities using DNA! On my mom’s side a 2nd cousin found me who had been adopted at birth. After his adoptive mother died he wanted to find his biological parents and so he did a DNA test on ancestry and found me as a match. He contacted me when I came up as his 2nd cousin. I took one look at him and knew who his biological father was. (His biological father was my mom’s first cousin. It turned out my mom’s first cousin fell in love with girl who wasn’t Jewish in his early 20’s . In the 1950’s they were forbidden to marry because they were of different faiths. She was forced to give up the child. This child, (now a man who was born when I was ten). Found his biological parents and me. So DNA brought him together with the. The biological mom didn’t want anything to do with him but, his biological dad and my sister and I welcomed him with open arms.

    *However, the most important DNA results that I’ve received have kept me alive because of new experimental cancer drugs developed through genetic medical research. I learned that European Jews are more prone to ovarian cancer than the basic female population . Israeli doctors knowing this, have been developing drugs to save lives and fight cancer. My doctor did genetic testing before operating on me. My children now know what diseases they inherited . While I don’t have the BRCA GENE IN MY BLOOD, it was in ALL my cancerous tumors meaning I have BRCA 2. So my grand daughter needs to beware of this. My bloodwork in my dna also showed that my sons are predisposed to getting colon cancer and should have a colonoscopy early. This scientific data is why I’m still alive. So, I’m all for it. Anything that saves lives works for me!

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 4 people

      1. LA I understand that. If we could depend on our leaders to make just and fair laws that weren’t faith based but scientifically based and to be use with common sense, then good laws could help prevent nefarious use of DNA. Obviously, I think the good far outweighs the small percentage of bad. I see women every month who get to live longer lives because of genetic testing. A decade ago I’d have been dead 6 months after my diagnosis. I’ve spent two more years watching my grandchildren grow up and spending cherished time with my children. So yeah, I believe in testing. I think everyone should be tested. I wish this had been known when I was younger. I would have had a hysterectomy in my 40’s. It would have saved me from dealing with cancer. And let me tell you, I wouldn’t wish
        Ovarian cancer on anyone.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Aah…but a fact based law that would be good for the collective instead of the individual would say that we should all have copies of our DNA on file because the ends justify the means.

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  8. Well, you know that the repugs want the states to have ALL the rights, right? I have the RH factor as well, hubby is positive and I am negative so I know the kids were tested and I had to have the shots as well. Other than their blood type though, I don’t know what else they had done or how long the info was kept.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think this goes as a political thing…it comes down to do the ends justify the means. If I was assaulted, I’d definitely want dna anyway it could be gotten. However, is it impinging on peoples rights?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think both the politicians and the science “experts” have proven themselves to be very corrupt. Our tax dollars have ended up in a lot of pockets where they don’t belong. So, my answer to #5 is that we absolutely need to limit powers and access to personal information. We have let technology get way ahead of discussions on ethics. Like frogs in the gradually increased temps in the pot of water, we have given up a lot of rights without even being aware of it. 1984 is not science fiction anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good questions, LA! When it comes to baby DNA tests for these potential conditions, I am all for it, maybe even required. But then the results should be destroyed. Adults voluntarily taking DNA tests for ancestry purposes should assume that it could be used in a criminal case. Testing companies do very little to prepare test subjects for the potential outcomes of testing. In that regard, I think regulations should be put in place (like warnings on cigarette packs, right?) that such knowledge could be hazardous to your (mental) health.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a lot of ifs and buts…can you really destroy testing materials or are there valid reasons to have them saved? Is it a safer society if everyone is required to have dna and fingerprints on file? I go back and forth on this

      Liked by 2 people

  11. If a member of your family was injured and the criminal brought to justice by the use of DNA would you worry how it was obtained?

    I wouldn’t.

    Then think of capital punishment. Would you rather the sentence was based on police statements, eye-witness testimony (which is surprisingly unreliable) and coincidence, or would you rather it was based on DNA? People have been exonerated of capital crimes based on DNA (some, unfortunately, after the sentence). I don’t recall one being wrongfully executed on DNA evidence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just made this point to someone else. If I was assaulted I’d want everything done to find the culprit. Though, as to infallibility…I think there are issues with twins, and I think there’s been bone marrow transplant issues, plus what if theres DNA present, but other DNA was overlooked? I am hesitant to call anything infallible

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nothing is ever fair. Women campaigned for years for equal prize money at Wimbledon,. I thought that was fair. But what they really meant is they wanted the same amount of money for playing less tennis. That doesn’t seem quite as fair. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. We have screening blood tests on new babies, it makes sense to make sure the baby as no underlining conditions. I think keeping that sample completely wrong

    Liked by 1 person

  13. In Australia, the Guthrie test (heel prick blood test) is not a choice. This test saves lives and every single baby, wherever it is born has it done. Since I qualified as a Midwife 150 years ago, the test has gone from testing for 3 disorders to many, each of these disorders has long-term implications for the families. So much has changed in the fields of diagnostic biomedicine and cytogenetics the limits of the Guthrie test are unknown.
    The tests are kept for years as advances in diagnostic methods keep happening. This is important for families that have life-limiting disorders where children have died without a diagnosis being made at the time.
    Should the blood spots be kept for police investigations? I don’t know, it’s not something that happens here, so to my knowledge it’s not a discussion that has been had.
    Note- I work in health research looking at rare genetic disorders (amongst other things).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the idea of testing for things…I had every test available when I was pregnant and when my daughter was an infant. I’m a ok personally on testing. However, what we do with it outside the lab is what makes me stop and think

      Liked by 1 person

  14. As I recall from my RN days, we do a PKU test with a drop of blood immediately after birth and it’s really important. Diet has to be adjusted immediately if a baby tests positive. I know other things are tested for too. So yes, I think the tests should be mandatory. In this instance though, if I read the article correctly, the police piggybacked DNA testing – first using a child’s old blood (obtained by subpoena), then used that to establish probable cause to get a warrant to test the father’s DNA. Keep in mind the police did not have probable cause on the father to begin with. Creative yes, but huge bastardization of the law. DNA, while more accurate, is not a 100% deal. Neither are fingerprints. So I guess I’d want to know why on earth the blood sample is kept for 23 years and why such bootstrapping would be allowed? I don’t see how DNA evidence could prevent a crime, perhaps help solve one after the fact. I see it being more beneficial for getting the wrongly convicted people set free – which, btw, takes a lot of legal rangling to even get those tests approved – a lot more than what happened here. I also see other potential abuses should this information leak, such as being denied health insurance. Police are already allowed to lie, cheat, and pressure people for hours with interrogation. Prosecuters are given a substantial edge legally against defendants. So why keep extending this over-reach?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Testing for issues I’m all for. Did every test they offered. However, as we are presently in a crime wave so bad my husband wants to move out if the city, I’m all for trying to catch criminals. However, I’m not sure what that means as far as testing. Agree that fingerprints and DNA are not 100%. Also agree that some people go too far. But as our DA is very soft on criminals, I’ll tell you there’s got to be a more even way to do stuff

      Liked by 1 person

  15. We need a balancing of rights for sure. Sorry to hear about the crime rate there, plenty here too sadly. Let’s look at the extreme version. Let’s say the police get mandatory DNA testing on all children at birth and that information goes in a national data bank. Everyone is presumed guilty. We are evolving more and more towards a police state. What sounds absurd at the moment is commonplace tomorrow. And guess what, Congress has prohibited the establishment of a computerized database of gun serial numbers and their owners. Police have to get lucky to track guns. How stupid is that, but let’s start tracking everyone’s DNA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t want a DNA database…I wouldn’t do ancestry.com because of that. However, selfishly, if I were assaulted id like to know who dun it. This is where I’m torn about this. But, also, if we have everyone’s DNA, would we be able to find cures for things, like L said. I think there’s good and bad to all this, and I’m still not sure where I stand.

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      1. Good points. The police are already creating that database – everyone convicted of a felony is banked. On the other end of the spectrum, they test children as a “preventative” for future possible abduction cases. It’s happening. Fighting crime is extremely important are resources being channeled to eliminate root causes of it? I don’t see that happening

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Also, like L said, kids are now routinely fingerprinted for cases of abduction…in one way it’s great…in others? The one thing I know is if we do this, it must have clear rules, and frankly, must be universal.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. As with everything, there are pros and cons. I’m Rh negative but didn’t know until my blood was tested while pregnant. Good thing it was because I needed the Rhogam shot so my body would not attack the baby or future pregnancies. I did have both babies typed at birth to find out if they also had Rh negative blood. Doesn’t accessing that info violate HIPPA rules anyway? I will also never do the ancestry DNA thing because I don’t want my DNA in some random database. The question becomes does the end justify the means…..something we can ask about almost everything now. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Strictly my personal opinion, and I appear to be in the minority, but I have no problem with keeping blood/DNA/fingerprints in a database in order to solve future crimes. I think preventing future killings and saving lives trumps any privacy concerns. But again, that’s just me.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. In the not too distant future, I believe there will be screening & testing of everyone, as drugs will be specifically designed to work for each individual’s biological make-up. This means our DNA (and much else) would be held on databases. That means it could be used for other purposes. Is that an invasion of privacy – well, yes, of course it is.

    The issue as I see it is that most of us don’t trust those who govern, so we struggle with balancing that bad against the obvious benefits.

    Great discussion LA (and lil’LA) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a subject I hadn’t thought about much, but when talking about it with my daughter, I realized all the Angles. She told me yesterday about a 40 year old case that was solved because someone had a hunch, and got DNA off a soda can. The article was vague but my daughter is trying to find more info

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s a topic that could be debated back & forth without ever reaching one resolution which everyone would be content with. It’s a fascinating subject without a doubt.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Should everyone be required to have fingerprints and DNA evidence of file to prevent/solve crimes?

    DEFINITELY NOT! The US criminal justice system is flawed enough as it is. We don’t need to throw in something else than can be manipulated and used to unlawfully arrest and/or detain people.

    Liked by 1 person

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