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27-09-2011 | General practice | Article

Prenatal SCT screening cost-effective


Brit J Gen Practice 2011; Advance online publication

Routinely screening pregnant women for sickle-cell disease and thalassaemia (SCT) in primary care costs £13 per woman and helps expectant parents to make informed choices about the pregnancy, study findings suggest.

"The policy judgment is whether an earlier opportunity for informed reproductive choice has a value of at least £13," say Professor Stirling Bryan (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) and fellow researchers.

"If they do, then the results lend support for a policy of primary care sequential screening in inner-city populations."

The findings come from a cost-effectiveness analysis of the SHIFT (Screening for Haemoglobinopathies in the First Trimester) trial, which compared different SCT screening strategies.

Results published last year confirmed that a "primary care sequential" strategy, whereby GPs offered screening to the mother, and then to the father if the mother tested positive, was most effective, as judged by the proportion of women screened before 10 weeks' gestation.

In this study, Professor Bryan's group used modelling analysis to estimate costs. Compared with midwife screening, the primary care sequential strategy resulted in an extra 2623 women being screened at a cost to the NHS of £34,000, or £13 per woman.

"Further work is required to understand the value attached to earlier informed reproductive choice," the researchers conclude.

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Joanna Lyford