A decision-tree approach to cost comparison of newborn screening strategies for cystic fibrosis

Janelle Wells, Marjorie Rosenberg, Gary Hoffman, Michael Anstead, Philip M. Farrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Because cystic fibrosis can be difficult to diagnose and treat early, newborn screening programs have rapidly developed nationwide but methods vary widely. We therefore investigated the costs and consequences or specific outcomes of the 2 most commonly used methods. METHODS: With available data on screening and follow-up, we used a simulation approach with decision trees to compare immunoreactive trypsinogen (IRT) screening followed by a second IRT test against an IRT/DNA analysis. By using a Monte Carlo simulation program, variation in the model parameters for counts at various nodes of the decision trees, as well as for costs, are included and applied to fictional cohorts of 100 000 newborns. The outcome measures included the numbers of newborns given a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis and costs of screening strategy at each branch and cost per newborn. RESULTS: Simulations revealed a substantial number of potential missed diagnoses for the IRT/IRT system versus IRT/DNA. Although the IRT/IRT strategy with commonly used cutoff values offers an average overall cost savings of $2.30 per newborn, a breakdown of costs by societal segments demonstrated higher out-of-pocket costs for families. Two potential system failures causing delayed diagnoses were identified relating to the screening protocols and the follow-up system. CONCLUSIONS: The IRT/IRT screening algorithm reduces the costs to laboratories and insurance companies but has more system failures. IRT/DNA offers other advantages, including fewer delayed diagnoses and lower out-of-pocket costs to families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e339-e347
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Costs
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • DNA
  • Immunoreactive trypsinogen
  • Newborn screening
  • Sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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