Resuscitation of neonates at 23 weeks' gestational age: a cost-effectiveness analysis

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2015 Jan;28(2):121-30. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2014.909803. Epub 2014 Jul 24.


Objective: Resuscitation of infants at 23 weeks' gestation remains controversial; clinical practices vary. We sought to investigate the cost effectiveness of resuscitation of infants born 23 0/7-23 6/7 weeks' gestation.

Design: Decision-analytic modeling comparing universal and selective resuscitation to non-resuscitation for 5176 live births at 23 weeks in a theoretic U.S. cohort. Estimates of death (77%) and disability (64-86%) were taken from the literature. Maternal and combined maternal-neonatal utilities were applied to discounted life expectancy to generate QALYs. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were calculated, discounting costs and QALYs. Main outcomes included number of survivors, their outcome status and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for the three strategies. A cost-effectiveness threshold of $100 000/QALY was utilized.

Results: Universal resuscitation would save 1059 infants: 138 severely disabled, 413 moderately impaired and 508 without significant sequelae. Selective resuscitation would save 717 infants: 93 severely disabled, 279 moderately impaired and 343 without significant sequelae. For mothers, non-resuscitation is less expensive ($19.9 million) and more effective (127 844 mQALYs) than universal resuscitation ($1.2 billion; 126 574 mQALYs) or selective resuscitation ($845 million; 125 966 mQALYs). For neonates, both universal and selective resuscitation were cost-effective, resulting in 22 256 and 15 134 nQALYS, respectively, versus 247 nQALYs for non-resuscitation. In sensitivity analyses, universal resuscitation was cost-effective from a maternal perspective only at utilities for neonatal death <0.42. When analyzed from a maternal-neonatal perspective, universal resuscitation was cost-effective when the probability of neonatal death was <0.95.

Conclusions: Over wide ranges of probabilities for survival and disability, universal and selective resuscitation strategies were not cost-effective from a maternal perspective. Both strategies were cost-effective from a maternal-neonatal perspective. This study offers a metric for counseling and decision-making for extreme prematurity. Our results could support a more permissive response to parental requests for aggressive intervention at 23 weeks' gestation.

Keywords: Cost-effectiveness; death and dying; decision-making; ethics; extreme prematurity; health policy; perinatal care; resuscitation.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Extremely Premature*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / economics
  • Patient Selection
  • Quality of Life
  • Resuscitation* / economics
  • Resuscitation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States