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Research Article

Can we afford screening for neural tube defects? The South Wales experience.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 26 January 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:293
  1. B M Hibbard,
  2. C J Roberts,
  3. G H Elder,
  4. K T Evans,
  5. K M Laurence


    Clinical and financial gains and losses accruing from five different options for screening for open neural tube defects were estimated, based principally on the results of detailed monitoring of inputs and outcomes and of process costs in the South Wales Anencephaly and Spina Bifida Study. As well as estimating the overall clinical costs of a screening service it was shown that if the prevalence, including terminations, of open neural tube defects is between 1.25 and five per 1000 births the financial cost of avoiding the birth of a seriously handicapped child who would survive for more than 24 hours is in the range 9000 pounds- 54000 pounds depending on the option adopted and the prevalence of the condition in the target population. Prevalence is the biggest determinant of cost. The data should provide a basis for assessment and discussion of resource priorities in the National Health Service.