Cost effectiveness of antenatal screening for cystic fibrosis.

H S Cuckle, G A Richardson, T A Sheldon, P Quirke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective-To estimate the cost effectiveness of different antenatal screening programmes for cystic fibrosis.

Setting-Antenatal clinics and general practices in the United Kingdom.

Design-Four components of the screening process were identified: information giving, DNA testing, genetic counselling, and prenatal diagnosis. The component costs were derived from the literature and from a pilot screening study in Yorkshire. The cost of a given screening programme was then obtained by summing the components according to the specific screening strategy adopted (sequential and couple), the proportion of carriers detected by the DNA test, and the uptake of screening. Baseline assumptions were made about the proportion with missing information on carrier status from previous pregnancies (20%), the proportion changing partners between pregnancies (20%), and the uptake of prenatal diagnosis (100%). Sensitivity analysis was performed by varying these assumptions.

Main outcome measure-Cost per affected pregnancy detected.

Results-Under the baseline assumptions sequential screening costs between pound 40000 and pound 90000 per affected pregnancy detected, depending on the carrier detection rate and uptake. Couple screening was more expensive, ranging from pound 46000 to pound 104000. From the sensitivity analysis a 10% change in the assumed proportion with missing information from a previous pregnancy alters the cost by pound 4000; a 10%, change in the proportion with new partners has a similar effect but only for couple screening; and cost will change directly in proportion to the uptake of prenatal diagnosis.

Conclusions-While economic analysis cannot determine screening policy, the paper provides the NHS with the information on cost effectiveness needed to inform decisions on the introduction of a screening service for cystic fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1460-1463
Number of pages4
JournalBritish medical journal
Issue number7018
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 1995


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