Incremental cost-effectiveness of incorporating oestriol evaluation in Down syndrome screening programmes

Prenat Diagn. 1994 Jul;14(7):527-35. doi: 10.1002/pd.1970140704.


As screening for Down syndrome becomes increasingly sophisticated, it is important to evaluate the newer technologies in terms of their cost-effectiveness. One recent addition to Down syndrome screening programmes is maternal serum unconjugated oestriol (uE3), especially when used in conjunction with maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein and human chorionic gonadotropin. Using assumptions used in a California proposal to justify an expanded screening programme for Down syndrome, we calculated both the average and the incremental cost-effectiveness of adding uE3. Using the base case assumptions, including an $8 fee for the uE3, the incremental cost-effectiveness of adding uE3 to the proposed California programme is $119,100 per case detected, a value that compares favourably with other Down syndrome screening programmes. The sensitivity analysis supports this conclusion over a wide range of assumptions. However, because of the uncertainty with some key data, it is still too early to fully support the inclusion of uE3 in Down syndrome screening programmes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / blood
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Down Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Estriol / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / economics*
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Maternal Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, High-Risk
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / analysis


  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • alpha-Fetoproteins
  • Estriol