Every year about four million newborns in the U.S. get a heel prick at birth, to screen for congenital disorders, that if found early enough, can save their life.
The leftover blood, however, isn’t thrown away.
Turns out a non-descript office building in Richmond contains the DNA of every person born in California since 1983. It’s a treasure trove of information about you, from the color of your eyes and hair to your pre-disposition to diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Using these newborn blood spots for research, the state is able to screen babies for 80 hereditary diseases. But the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is not the only agency using the blood spots. Law enforcement can request them. Private companies can buy them to do research – without your consent.