Objectives: To provide current data for policy discussions and to assess future needs among newborn screening programs regarding the storage and use of residual dried blood spots (DBS) in the United States.
Study design: An electronic questionnaire was administered to U.S. state health department laboratory directors in 2003.
Results: Responses were received from 49 of the 50 states. Approximately half of them stored residual DBS for more than 6 months, 57% did not have a written policy that determines how residual DBS can or cannot be used, and 16% informed parents that DBS might be retained. Residual DBS were used by 74% of respondents for evaluation of newborn screening tests, by 52% for clinical or forensic testing, and by 28% for epidemiologic studies. Use of DBS was reported more frequently by states with extended storage. When asked if they might participate in an anonymous multistate epidemiologic study by contributing unlinked DBS, 41% responded affirmatively.
Conclusions: More states have used residual DBS for evaluating newborn screening tests than for epidemiologic studies. There is potential interest among states in using unlinked DBS for multistate studies and a need for written policies addressing all uses of residual DBS.