Cost-Effectiveness of Teratology Counseling- The Motherisk Experience

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Gideon Koren
Pina Bozzo


Teratology counseling, teratology information services, congenital malformations, cost-effectiveness



While the benefits of evidence - based counseling to large numbers of women and physicians are intuitively evident, there is an urgent need to document that teratology counseling, in addition to improving the quality of life of women and families, also lead s to cost saving. The objective of the present study was to calculate the cost effectiveness of the Motherisk Program, a large teratology information and counseling service at The Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto.


We analyzed data from the Motherisk Program on its 201 2 activities in two domains : 1) Calculation of cost - saving in preventing unjustified pregnancy terminations; and 2) prevention of major birth defects. Cost of pregnancy termination and lifelong cost of specific birth defects were identified from primary literature and prorated for cost of living for the year 2013.


Prevention of 255 pregnancy terminations per year led to cost saving s of $516,630. The total estimated number of major malformations prevented by Motherisk counseling in 2012 was 8.41 cases at a total estimated cost of $9,032,492.


With an estimated minimum annual prevention of 8 major malformations, and numerous unnecessary terminations of otherwise - wanted pregnancies , a cost saving of $10 million can be calculated. In 2013 the operating budget of Motherisk counseling totaled $640,000. Even based on the narrow range of activities for which we calculated cost, this service is highly cost - effective. Because most teratology counseling services are operating in a very similar method to Motherisk, it is fair to assume that these results, although dependent on the size of the service, are generalizable to other countries.

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