Background: To identify the most cost-beneficial model as a national policy of screening and diagnosis of fetal Down syndrome (DS) in developing countries.
Methods: Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) was performed based on the effectiveness and probabilities derived from a large prospective study on MSS (maternal serum screening) among Thai population. Various models including maternal age alone, STS (second trimester screen), I-S (independent screen: first or second trimester screen depending on the time of first visit), C-S (contingent serum screen) plus STS, maternal age with NIPS (non-invasive prenatal test), STS alone with NIPS, I-S with NIPS, C-S plus STS with NIPS, and Universal NIPS were compared.
Results: I-S with NIPS as a secondary screening was most cost-beneficial (Benefit/Cost ratio 4.28). Cost-benefit is directly related to the costs of NIPS.
Conclusion: In addition to simplicity and feasibility, I-S with expensive NIPS as a secondary screening is the most cost-beneficial method for low resource settings and should be included in universal healthcare coverage as a national policy. This study could be a model for developing countries or a guideline for international health organizations to help low resource countries, probably leading to a paradigm shift in prenatal diagnosis of fetal DS in the developing world.
Keywords: Cost-benefit; Developing country; Down syndrome; Prenatal diagnosis; Prenatal screening.