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Genet Med. 2009 Oct;11(10):716-21. doi: 10.1097/GIM.0b013e3181b3a61e.

Impact of false-positive newborn metabolic screening results on early health care utilization.

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Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



To analyze the association between false-positive newborn screening results and health care utilization.


We surveyed parents regarding their children's health care utilization. Parents of children who received false-positive newborn screening results were primarily enrolled by a screening laboratory in Pennsylvania. Parents of children with normal results were recruited through the Massachusetts birth registry. We used bivariate tests and multivariate regression to assess the association between newborn screening results and primary care utilization, emergency room use, and hospitalization by the age of 6 months.


Our sample included 200 children with false-positive results and 137 with normal results. Variation in recruitment strategies led to sample children with false-positive results being more likely to be non-white, have unmarried parents, and be of lower socioeconomic status. After adjusting for significant covariates, such as age, race, and socioeconomic status, there were no significant associations between newborn screening results and child health care utilization.


Despite the reported negative psychosocial effects of false-positive results, our study found no impact on early health care utilization. These results may assist in economic analyses of newborn screening as they suggest that medical costs associated with false-positive results are limited to the cost of diagnostic testing and follow-up.

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