Screening pregnant women for sickle cell disease and thalassaemia in the first ten weeks of pregnancy would help parents make informed choices about the future of the pregnancy and cost the NHS just £13 for each woman screened.
Researchers at King's College London studied all pregnant women in 27 GP practices across two inner-city London boroughs, with a high proportion of residents from minority ethnic groups.
They found that offering SCT screening to the mother, and then to the father if the mother was a carrier, resulted in an extra 2,623 women screened, at a cost of £13 per additional woman screened by ten weeks.
Professor Stirling Bryan, from the School of Population and Public Health in Vancouver, Canada, said: ‘The policy judgement is whether the benefits, in the form of providing women and couples with the opportunity to make informed reproductive choices, have a value of greater than £13.'
'If they do, then the results lend support for a policy of primary care sequential screening in inner-city populations.'