The cost-effectiveness of universal late-pregnancy screening for macrosomia in nulliparous women: a decision-analysis

David Wastlund, Alexandros Moraitis, Jim Thornton, Julia Sanders, Ian White, Peter Brocklehurst, Gordon C.S Smith, Edward Wilson

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: To identify the most cost-effective policy for detection and management of fetal macrosomia in late-stage pregnancy.
Design: Health economic simulation model.
Setting: All English NHS antenatal services.
Population: Nulliparous women in the third trimester treated withing the English NHS.

Methods: A health economic simulation model was used to compare long-term maternal-fetal health and cost outcomes for two detection strategies (universal ultrasound scanning at approximately 36 weeks gestational age versus selective ultrasound scanning), combined with three management strategies (planned caesarean section versus induction of labour versus expectant management) of suspected fetal macrosomia. Probabilities, costs and health outcomes were taken from literature.

Main Outcome Measures: Expected costs to the NHS and Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained from each strategy, calculation of net benefit and hence identification of most cost-effective strategy.

Results: Compared to selective ultrasound, universal ultrasound increased QALYs by 0.0038 (95% CI: 0.0012, 0.0076), but also costs by £123.5 (95% CI: 99.6, 149.9). Overall, the health gains were too small to justify the cost increase. The most cost-effective policy was selective ultrasound coupled with induction of labour where macrosomia was suspected.

Conclusions: The most cost-effective policy for detection and management of fetal macrosomia is selective ultrasound scanning coupled with induction of labour for all suspected cases of macrosomia. Universal ultrasound scanning for macrosomia in late-stage pregnancy is not cost-effective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1243-1250
Number of pages8
JournalBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number10
Early online date8 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


  • Adult
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • England
  • Female
  • Fetal Macrosomia/diagnosis
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Parity
  • Patient Selection
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Prenatal Care/economics
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal/economics

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