Birth Defects Cost Hospitals More Than $2.5 Billion
Birth defects in the U.S. cost hospitals more than $2.5 billion annually, according to a study released this week by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports.
The study used 2004 data from 37 states and examined the cost of care for hospitals -- estimated at 40% of what patients were charged -- for patients of all ages seeking treatment for a birth defect.
According to researchers, the average age of people seeking treatment for birth defects was 17 1/2 years old. The average hospital stay for those seeking treatment lasted six days and hospital costs averaged $18,600 per stay, according to the study.
A separate study released Thursday, conducted by CDC and the University of Arkansas, used 2003 data from 36 states to measure patient costs in cases where an infant younger than 10 days old was diagnosed with one of 35 birth defects. The study analyzed only hospital charges and did not include physicians' bills or other medical costs related to the birth defect.
The study found that the cost of care for birth defects "is almost always a function of how long they were in the hospital because of the surgeries that were done," according to the study's lead author James Robbins of Arkansas, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports.
For example, most infants with anencephaly, a condition where they are born without part of their brain or skull, died within two days, and average hospital changes for treatment were about $3,800, according to the study. Gastroschisis or hypoplastic left heart, both of which require extended hospital stays and multiple surgeries, averaged $156,000 and $200,000, respectively, in costs (Stobbe, AP/Long Island Newsday, 1/18).