Decision Analysis of Prenatal Testing for Chromosomal Disorders: What Do the Preferences of Pregnant Women Tell Us?
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Current guidelines recommend offering invasive testing for chromosomal disorders only to women who are aged 35 or older, or who are at similarly elevated risk (as determined by maternal serum and/or ultrasonographic screening). We conducted a decision analysis, using preference scores obtained from pregnant women, to determine whether current guidelines maximize the health-related quality of life of these women. If only miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities are considered, the expected value of testing exceeds that of not testing for women 30 years of age or older. However, if a comprehensive range of relevant testing outcomes is considered, testing offers a higher expected value than not testing, regardless of age. Furthermore, patient preferences for specific testing outcomes play a much more substantial role in determining the course of action with the highest expected value than does the probability of any of the possible testing outcomes. The current age- and risk-based guideline for prenatal diagnosis does not maximize expected value and fails to appropriately consider individual patient preferences. For counseling purposes, how an individual values the presence and timing of fetal chromosomal information should be carefully understood.
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