Health Dept. completes purging of newborn screening data

Newborn blood sample
A 1-day-old baby boy's heel is pricked for blood during a newborn screening to detect phenylketonuria and many other disorders at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., in 2010.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Minnesota Department of Health has finished destroying all newborn screening test results created before Nov. 16, 2011.

The agency was required as part of a settlement with families to destroy all newborn blood spots and screening results created before Nov. 16, 2011, because the Health Department had not obtained parental permission to store the material.

Assistant Commissioner Aggie Leitheiser said the state destroyed around a million blood spots samples in January. She said most of the test results were erased at the same time. "But then it took us some time to go through and find the backups or the extra copies that were in the database system," she said. "And it just took us time to make sure that we were confident that we had found all the places."

Leitheiser said the Mayo Clinic, which had a contract to test some of the samples, has also purged its archives. "We've been working with them and we have assurance from them through their data collection system and their data analysis that they've cleaned everything out as well," Leitheiser said.

A new law that took effect in August allows the Health Department to store newborn screening data indefinitely. Parents can opt out of the storing plan.

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