Monday, January 29, 2007

? OF THE WEEK: Do you think it is right for states like Nebraska to force newborn blood tests without the consent of a baby’s parents?

Faithful challenge newborn blood test laws Parents argue state-mandated screenings violate religious tenets In Nebraska it is required that newborns undergo blood tests within 48 hours of birth. Ray and Louise Spiering are challenging this law because they say it infringes on their religious beliefs. The couple practice fundamental Christianity and Scientology, saying, “that balance of our beliefs included into the births of our children.” The test is mandatory in 4 states: South Dakota, Michigan, Montana and, of course, Nebraska. These states don't allow parents to opt out of testing. The Spiering parents and another set of parents from Nebraska are taking this to the Supreme Court and Legislature to change the law, so that it will be more flexible when screening newborns.
The mandatory test, in which a few drops of blood are drawn from a baby’s heel, screens for dozens of rare congenital diseases, some of which can cause severe mental retardation or death if left undetected.

The Spierings wanted to avoid loud noises after Melynda’s birth, and also reduce the pain she experienced in order to protect her physical and mental health. The concept comes from the Church of Scientology — minimizing talking around someone who is in pain, said the Rev. Brian Fesler of Minneapolis, a regional representative for the church.

The church teaches that words spoken during moments of pain and unconsciousness affect physical and mental health later in life, he said. The church encourages silent birth, in which those attending avoid talking.

But the church doesn’t discourage parents from having their children tested, Fesler said.

One in every 837 babies born last year tested positive for one of the 34 diseases the state tests for, said Julie Miller, manager of Nebraska’s Newborn Screening Program. But the incidence is much lower for the eight most serious diseases, with one in 112,000 having biotinidase deficiency, which can cause developmental delays.

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In my opinion, I believe that testing is necessary especially when detecting diseases early at birth. Many life-threatening disorders, such as mental retardation, can be avoided when tested. I usually agree with "parents know best for their baby," but they need to know whats best for the child when it concerns the baby's health. After meeting and knowing children with diseases, early detection is very important to save lives. What are your opinions... Do you think it is right for states like Nebraska to force newborn blood tests without the consent of a baby’s parents?