Police Are Using Newborn Genetic Screening to Search for Suspects, Threatening Privacy and Public Health
States must craft policies to rein in unbridled police access to newborn blood samples.
July 26, 2022
Crystal Grant,
Technology Fellow,
ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project

Nearly every baby born in the U.S. has blood drawn in the immediate hours after their birth, allowing the baby to be tested for a panel of potentially life-threatening inherited disorders. This is a vital public health program, enabling early treatment of newborns with genetic disorders; for them, it can be the difference between a healthy life and an early death. But recent news suggests that police are seeking access to these newborn blood samples in criminal investigations. Such use of this trove of genetic material — to hunt for evidence that could implicate a child’s relative in a crime — endangers public trust in this vital health program and threatens all Americans’ right to genetic privacy...