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Am J Hum Genet. 1998 Oct;63(4):1160-74.

Prenatal screening for cystic fibrosis carriers: an economic evaluation.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Genetics, Unviersity of Rochester School of Medicine, NY, USA.


The cloning of the CFTR gene has made it technically possible to avert the unwanted birth of a child with cystic fibrosis (CF). Several large trials offering prenatal CF carrier screening suggest that such screening is practical and that identified carriers generally use the information obtained. Therefore, a critical question is whether the cost of such screening is justified. Decision analysis was performed that used information about choices that pregnant women were observed to make at each stage in the Rochester prenatal carrier-screening trial. The cost of screening per CF birth voluntarily averted was estimated to be $1,320,000-$1,400,000. However, the lifetime medical cost of the care of a CF child in today's dollars was estimated to be slightly>$1,000,000. Therefore, despite both the high cost of carrier testing and the relative infrequency of CF conceptions in the general population, the averted medical-care cost resulting from choices freely made are estimated to offset approximately 74%-78% of the costs of a screening program. At present, if it is assumed that a pregnancy terminated because of CF is replaced, the marginal cost for prenatal CF carrier screening is estimated to be $8,290 per quality-adjusted life-year. This value compares favorably with that of many accepted medical services. The cost of prenatal CF carrier screening could fall to equal the averted costs of CF patient care if the cost of carrier testing were to fall to $100.

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