Your Baby's DNA: the X-Files Was Right!

Cynthia Dermody

DNA testingTry this creepy news from CNN: When our children were born, the hospital carried out newborn screening tests that included the collection of their DNA.

I think I knew that at the time. The nurses probably mentioned it, but I was too in awe/in love/drugged up/exhausted/in pain (likely all of those things) to really think about what it could mean.

The government collects your child's DNA for several reasons. To screen against and prescribe treatments for illnesses, such as cystic fibrosis. A little girl in the CNN story tested positive for that genetic disease, but after further testing, it turned out she didn't have it.

It's also kept of file in case someday, God forbid, authorities need to identify the body of a deceased child.

I get both of those reasons. Fine.

Now the sort of creepy part. Some states will destroy the DNA after that critical testing period. Others can legally hold on to it indefinitely. Why? Sometimes they turn it over to researchers who do gene experiments on it. The scientific community loves this. They wouldn't be able to get baby DNA any other way. They're not supposed to have your baby's name attached to it without a parent's consent, but sometimes they still get a hold of those details, according to the CNN piece.

That could mean so many things, but do you really want the government or health insurance companies knowing your child's entire genetic history? What if your child can't qualify for insurance someday because a gene test came up positive for something that turned out to be nothing?

I hate to react all alarmist to reports like this. An expert quoted in the piece says parents have nothing to worry about, that this is all routine, the government's way of protecting children.

But it reminds me of that episode of the X-Files where Mulder and Scully discover the abandoned warehouse in West Virginia. Inside: rows and rows of files containing medical info and samples on millions of the country's children. Oooh, and that was right before lights flooded the building, and those aliens came ...

See what happens when the government knows too much, see!

Will you be marching into your state office demanding they destroy your baby's DNA, or could you care less about this?

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