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Viewpoint |

Parental Consent for the Use of Residual Newborn Screening Bloodspots Respecting Individual Liberty vs Ensuring Public Health

Michelle J. Bayefsky, BA1; Katherine W. Saylor, MS2; Benjamin E. Berkman, JD, MPH1,3
[+] Author Affiliations
1Clinical Center, Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
2Division of Policy, Communications, and Education, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
3Bioethics Core, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
JAMA. 2015;314(1):21-22. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.6175.
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Striking a balance between public health research based on residual newborn screening blood spots and preserving parental rights to consent their use is the focus of this Viewpoint.

On December 18, 2014, the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2014 was signed into law, renewing federal funding for the state-run newborn screening programs1 that have proven to be extraordinarily effective at saving children from lifelong disability.2 The bill included a last-minute amendment, however, that has generated immense concern among state newborn screening program officials and biomedical researchers. The amendment, which remains in effect until an updated Common Rule is released, stipulates that research on deidentified newborn dried bloodspots must be classified as research involving human subjects, thus requiring explicit parental informed consent. Public health officials’ major concern is that requiring explicit consent from parents may reduce the number of samples available for research and could even negatively affect newborn screening participation overall.3

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