Cost-effectiveness analysis of neonatal screening of critical congenital heart defects in China

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Pulse oximetry screening is a highly accurate tool for the early detection of critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) in newborn infants. As the technique is simple, noninvasive, and inexpensive, it has potentially significant benefits for developing countries. The aim of this study is to provide information for future clinical and health policy decisions by assessing the cost-effectiveness of CCHD screening in China.

Methods and Findings:

We developed a cohort model to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of screening all Chinese newborns annually using 3 possible screening options compared to no intervention: pulse oximetry alone, clinical assessment alone, and pulse oximetry as an adjunct to clinical assessment. We calculated the incremental cost per averted disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in 2015 international dollars to measure cost-effectiveness. One-way sensitivity analysis and multivariate probabilistic sensitivity analysis were performed to test the robustness of the model. Of the three screening options, we found that clinical assessment is the most cost-effective strategy compared to no intervention with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of Int$5,728/DALY, while pulse oximetry plus clinical assessment with the highest ICER yielded the best health outcomes. Sensitivity analysis showed that when the treatment rate increased up to 57.5%, pulse oximetry plus clinical assessment showed the best expected values among the three screening options.


In China, for neonatal screening for CCHD at the national level, clinical assessment was a very cost-effective preliminary choice and pulse oximetry plus clinical assessment was worth considering for the long term. Improvement in accessibility to treatment is crucial to expand the potential health benefits of screening.

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