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'Secret' NHS DNA database causes uproar

Published on 24/05/2010
Millions of newborn babies have had their DNA stored by NHS hospitals without the full knowledge of their parents, it has been revealed.

Freedom of information requests show that hospitals around Britain have been collecting the material from routine heel-prick tests, in which babies' blood is tested for serious diseases.

Civil rights groups are up in arms that the DNA records, which have been stored by some parts of the NHS since the 1980s, can be used by police to ID suspects, as well as being accessible by coroners and medical researchers.

A health spokesperson said that safeguards are in place to protect the information and parents are well-informed.

However, experts say that mothers and fathers are not given enough information about the procedure to provide informed consent, with many unaware the records are accessible by the police.

According to the Sunday Times, the standard leaflet simply suggests that stored blood samples can be used "for research to help improve the health of babies and their families in the UK".

Dr Helen Wallace, of campaign group Genewatch, said: "Giving a new mother a leaflet does not amount to informed consent.

"We would like to see a system brought in across the whole country which would see all samples destroyed after a certain period of time."
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2010


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