Should you collect a sample of your newborn’s blood?

Posted at 1:03 PM, Nov 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-14 13:03:23-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The accidental baby-switching case at the University of Virginia Hospital in 1995 helped lead to the passing of the Virginia Child Identification Program.

The program gives parents the option, at the time of a baby’s birth, of having the hospital collect and give you a sample of the newborn’s blood. The maternity ward at Johnston-Willis Hospital is one of many area birthing centers that highly recommends new parents to use the program.

They say in the event of future emergencies involving a child; things like an accident, abduction, or natural disaster; that collected blood can be used to perform a DNA analysis for use in identifying that child.

How does it work?

Nurses take a small drop of blood and apply it to a specially designed card. The card is then placed in a sealed envelope which parents take home.  The hospital does not keep a sample.

Nurse Kathy Derr at the Johnston-Willis Maternal Unit says by storing a blood sample, parents significantly increase the possibility that it will be useable for DNA testing.

"Anything can occur from the moment they take their baby home," Derr said. "So I think they should just go ahead and do it. It’s an easy process and it’s of no cost to them.”

Hospitals take an inked footprint of a baby after their born.  However, as a newborn grows, the footprints become harder to read.  Having a blood sample can be a valuable tool for identification, Derr said.