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Is it OK to use stored newborn blood samples for research?


Michigan State University wants the public’s opinion about whether blood samples taken from newborns should be used in other research.

Every newborn baby in Michigan has spot of blood taken from its heel. The blood is screened for genetic or metabolic diseases.

The state has samples stored in its bio-bank dating back to 1984.

Ann Mongoven is an assistant professor in MSU’s Center for Ethics and the Humanities in the Life Sciences.

She says the proposal raises ethical questions.

“Especially since the blood was not collected with the intent for research, so people were not asked, 'Do you wish blood to be made available for research?' In fact, I believe most people who have blood in the bio-trust don’t know it," Mongoven says.

She says there would be no names on the samples, but date of birth, location, racial or ethnic factors might be known.

MSU, the University of Michigan and MSU Extension are working together to recruit a pool of deliberators from across the state to discuss the issue.

For more information, visit www.explorebiobanking.org and www.bioethics.msu.edu/