“Pre-kindergarten screening is not a cost-effective way to spend our health care dollars,” Valerie Flaherman, MD, MPH, research fellow in the UCSF Department of Pediatrics said. “You need about seven percent of the children who are being screened to test positive in order for pre-kindergarten screening to be cost-effective. That may have been the case in the past, but now often less than one percent test positive.”

The study, titled "Cost-effectiveness of Alternative Strategies for Tuberculosis Screening before Kindergarten," was conducted using a computer-based decision analysis model that calculated costs and benefits of routine, or universal, TB screening, targeted screening according to risk factors, and no screening at all. Flaherman’s research team found that the use of targeted testing instead of routine testing would save California $1.27 million savings per year. “This study provides tools that health officials can use to tailor TB screening decisions to the particular circumstances of their communities,” said Flaherman.

Tuberculosis remains a persistent health threat in California, with over 2,800 cases reported in the state in 2006. California has more cases of tuberculosis in young children than any other state. The savings from eliminating universal tuberculosis skin testing of youngsters could be redirected toward more cost-effective methods of stopping the spread of the disease, according to Flaherman. Instead, finding and treating adults with tuberculosis would be a better approach to stopping the spread of the disease to children, she said.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of California - San Francisco