Alpha-fetoprotein Test (AFP)

An AFP test is a blood test that measures the amount of AFP present in blood. AFP is one of the blood tests you have in a triple screen or quad screen, it is usually done on pregnant ladies on their second trimester but it can also be useful for adults who are not pregnant

Unborn babies produce AFP and it shows up in their mother’s blood. It then circulates through the fetal and maternal blood. Individuals who aren’t pregnant still have some AFP in their blood, but levels are normally low. High levels of AFP in adults who aren’t pregnant usually indicate certain types of liver disease or cancer.

Need of an alpha-fetoprotein test

An AFP test is mostly recommendable to expected mothers. It is a routine screening test which is done between the 14th and 22nd weeks of their pregnancy.

This screening test also tests your level of HCG, Estriol (Hormone produced by placenta and baby’s liver) and inhibin A (Hormone produced by placenta)

AFP test results help doctors to determine the chances of unborn baby have a genetic birth defect. Defects determine by this type of test can include spina bifida, Down syndrome, chromosomal abnormalities. And then report helps doctor to examine the condition further and recommend other tests if required. A positive test result does not always mean that unborn baby will have some birth defect.

The AFP test is mostly recommendable and important for women having high risk of children with birth defects such as who is age of 35 or more, family history of birth defects, who used drugs or harmful medications during their pregnancies.

Normal adults who are not pregnant, an AFP test can help to detect and monitor certain liver conditions, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer. It can also help detect other cancers, including cancers of the ovaries, pancreas, and stomach.

Understanding the meaning of the test results

If any adult who are not pregnant, the normal AFP is usually less than 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood and if it is high then it indicates certain type of liver disease or cancer.

AFP levels vary widely during pregnancy .It can indicate a neural tube defect in your unborn baby if you have higher-than-normal AFP levels.. If AFP level is very low than it could indicate that your fetus has risk of Down syndrome 

One can have abnormal AFP results due to having twins or triplets and it can also due to fetal death.It does not always mean that your child will have birth defect if you have abnormal test results. It only indicates that more diagnosis needs to be done to know the actual condition of the unborn baby

Authenticated by:

Dr. Gaurav Sharma

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