Five spots of blood are collected from nearly every child born in Michigan, within 24-72 hours after birth. The blood is captured on special filter paper and is sent to the Michigan Department of Community Health for screening. Because the blood is dried before sending it for screening, the card is known as a Dried Blood Spot card (DBS). The Michigan Department of Community Health Newborn Screening laboratory tests the dried blood for 49 different disorders. Since its implementation this important Public Health screening program has saved the lives of an estimated 4,000 Michigan babies and has diagnosed treatable disorders in thousands more.
After Newborn Screening is finished there is typically some blood remaining on the DBS card. This residual blood can be beneficial to researchers who are searching for important clues about the cause and cure for childhood disorders, not only in Michigan but worldwide. DBS may also show if there was exposure to infections or toxic substances before birth. Such findings may lead to important new screening tests.
It is important to note that although the residual blood may be used for health research after Newborn Screening is complete, the sample is separated from all directly identifiable information, so the researcher does not know whose dried blood spot is being used.
In addition to research there are other possible uses for DBS.
- The State laboratory can use them to develop new Newborn Screening tests and to make sure screening equipment is working as it should be.
- The State laboratory may use may use blood spots to investigate the spread of infectious diseases or public health epidemics.
- Parents may direct the use of their child's sample, for example a parent might want to enroll the child in a particular research study.