Korean J Prev Med.  1999 Sep;32(3):317-324.

Cost-benefit Analysis of Massive Screening for Inborn Errors of Metabolism in Korea

  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea.
  • 2Korea Health Industry Development Institute, Korea.
  • 3Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, Korea.


Since 1991, nationwide massive neonatal screen-ing program for phenylketonuria (PKU) and congenital hypothyroidism have been performed in Korea. As in many other countries, efficiency of this program has not been definitely concluded. For the purpose of evaluation of this program, from the perspective of efficiency, a cost-benefit analysis was carried out.
Costs of the detection and the treatment program were compared with the projected benefit(avoided costs) that results from the prevention of the mental retardation associated with the disorders due to PKU and hypothyroidism. Costs and benefits were discounted at an annual rate of 5 %, and duration of life-long labor was assumed to be 30 years. Cost and benefit were estimated based on the detection rates of one case of PKU per 5,572 and one case of congenital hypothyroidism per 32,554 babies screened during 1991-1997.
The benefit-cost ratio was 0.418. The sensitivity analysis for the discount rates and labor durations showed that most cost-benefit ratios were lower than one(1.0) except when discount rate was changed to 3% and detection rate to two- or threefold and/or labor duration to 40 years.
The result of this study suggested that present program of mass screening for PKU and congenital hypothyroidism could not be justified in terms of efficiency. It doesn't coincide with the results of previous studies in major developed countries, presumably because of difference in detection rates and welfare cost for the disabled.


Inborn errors of metabolism; Neonatal screening; Cost-benefit analysis

MeSH Terms

Congenital Hypothyroidism
Cost-Benefit Analysis*
Developed Countries
Infant, Newborn
Intellectual Disability
Mass Screening*
Metabolism, Inborn Errors*
Neonatal Screening
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