Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)- embryonic protein, reproduced by the liver andorgans of the digestive tract, which is usually present in the blood and amniotic fluid of pregnant women. High or low levels of alfa-fetoprotein may be associated with certain congenital malformations, such as Edwards syndrome, Down's syndrome, anencephaly, splitting of the spine, etc. A test-AFP will help to identify possible deviations in fetal development.
What is a test-AFP?
In the period from 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy, manyPregnant women are recommended to perform invasive perinatal diagnostics, which often causes them a shock. One of the most gentle methods that does not require internal penetration is the AFP test, which determines the alpha-fetoprotein during pregnancy in the mother's blood. The blood from the vein of the mother is taken and sent to the laboratory for analysis. The result, which usually becomes known after 1-2 weeks, is compared with the mother's age and ethnicity in order to assess the likelihood of potential genetic disorders.
The most accurate indicators of this testgives from 16 to 18 weeks. Due to the fact that the alfa-fetoprotein during pregnancy, its concentration level changes, for more reliable results of the survey, the exact date of conception is needed. However, it must be taken into account that the results of testing are not a diagnosis, but only signal that further diagnosis is needed to detect congenital anomalies in the fetus.
Who is recommended test-AFP?
Of course, it is desirable that all pregnant women conduct a similar examination. However, mandatory alfa-fetoprotein during pregnancy should be determined for women who:
If the alfa-fetoprotein is elevated, it canevidence that the developing fetus has a neural tube defect, such as a spina bifida or anencephaly, anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract, and other congenital malformations. A high level of alfa-fetoprotein can also suggest congenital defects of the esophagus. However, the most common cause of elevated AFP levels is inaccurate dating of pregnancy.
If the alfa-fetoprotein during pregnancy is underestimated, andanomalous levels of hCG and estriol are also observed, this may indicate that the developing fetus may have developmental delay, trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome), trisomy 21 (Down's syndrome), or another type of chromosomal abnormality.
Results of AFP testing
It is important to remember that the AFP test is notdiagnostic test, he only notes that the health of the fetus is under threat. If an abnormal level of alfa-fetoprotein is detected, additional testing is required to accurately diagnose it. A more conservative approach involves conducting a second AFP test or 3D ultrasound. If repeated testing confirms that the alpha-fetoprotein during pregnancy (the AFP rate is calculated depending on the gestational age) is overestimated or underestimated, more invasive procedures are prescribed, for example amniocentesis.
Despite the fact that alfa-fetoproteintesting is not carried out for all pregnant women, in some cases it is necessary. Moreover, in addition to discomfort when taking blood, there are no risks and side effects associated with its conduct. This is a normal test that does not involve internal penetration, and therefore does not pose a danger to the mother or child. If the test is not offered, the woman can insist on carrying it out herself (if, of course, she thinks that it can be useful for her and her child) to make sure of the normal course of pregnancy.