Children at high risk for developing type 1 diabetes (T1D) can be identified on the basis of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotype and the subsequent development of islet cell autoantibodies. Several studies have documented reduced incidence of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in new-onset T1D when high-risk children are identified at an early age. Many have questioned whether general population screening for T1D risk should be standard of practice. We sought to perform a purely economic, cost-benefit analysis to determine if a screening program to reduce the incidence of DKA at diagnosis in children less than 5 yr is cost effective.Methods:
We compared the cost of population screening with the benefit of preventing DKA. The cost of screening included one-time HLA typing on the entire population followed by islet cell autoantibody testing in high-risk children every 6 months until age 5 yr. The potential benefits of screening included reductions in parental lost income, medical expenses, morbidity, and mortality.Results:
Screening for T1D risk for the sole purpose of reducing the cost of DKA at onset of T1D was not economically viable unless HLA testing and autoantibody testing could be performed for less than $1 and $0.03, respectively.Conclusions:
Current screening costs far outweigh the economic benefits of preventing new-onset DKA in children under 5 yr of age.