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Double Marker And Triple Marker Tests – What You Should Know

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By Author: Prapti Chauhan
Total Articles: 2
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Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful time but its usual for expectant mothers to get anxious around certain tests ordered to ensure there are no abnormalities in the baby. Depending on the age, health and certain other factors, the doctor will order the double marker test, followed by the triple marker test if necessary. While it might be normal to worry if you have not heard about these tests, do not let your pregnancy hormones create havoc on your mind. To prevent that, we bring you facts that are sure to answer all your questions about these tests.

What are marker tests and who are they meant for?

These are prenatal blood tests done that measure the level of certain substances in the blood to evaluate whether the baby might be born with chromosomal abnormalities and genetic disorders. Its important to know that these are screening tests and cannot establish for certain if your fetus has a defect. They only give you the probability of something going wrong.

While these tests are meant for all pregnant women, some women need it more than others. These are strongly recommended for pregnant women

- Who are more than 35 years of age
- Who has a family member with a congenital disease
- Who has an elder child with a genetic condition
- Who has the presence of the carrier gene in the parents
- Who have had a history of miscarriages
- Or who has ultrasound reports that indicate abnormalities

Here is more about the tests.

The Double Marker Test

The double marker test measures the levels of two specific substances in the mother’s blood :
• Pregnancy-associated plasma protein screening (PAPP-A): a protein made by the placenta
• Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG): a hormone made by the placenta
The results of the two tests are evaluated in conjunction with each other for a greater ability to determine the chancesof the fetus to develop genetic defects like Down syndrome (trisomy 21), Edwards’s syndrome (trisomy 18), and Patau syndrome (trisomy 13).

 Timing of the test:

Needs to be done between the 10th week and 13th week of the pregnancy.

The Triple Marker Test

This test is also known as the triple screen test or the multiple marker screening or the AFP Plus test. It measures the level of three specific substances in the blood of the pregnant woman.

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP): A protein produced by the fetal liver.Although present in the amniotic fluid, it crosses the placenta into your blood. It gives an indication of the presence of neural tube defects like Spina bifida, problems in the abdominal wall of the fetus,Down syndrome, andpresence of more than one fetus (multiples).
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG): A hormone produced by the placenta
Estriol: A type of estrogen produced by both the placenta and liver of the fetus.
Frequently another marker, inhibin A is measured along with the three markers. This is called the “quad screen” or "quadruple marker" test. As the number of markers increase, the accuracy of the tests to identify a defect also increases.

Timing of the triple marker test:
The recommended time is between the 16th and 18th week of pregnancy.

What do the test results mean?

A positive test result indicates that the fetus is at a higher risk of being born with a disorder compared to the average population. But that does not mean that the fetus will have it for sure. Similarly, a negative result stands for a lower risk to the fetus of being born with the defect. But again, it does not guarantee that the fetus will not have the disorder.

Abnormal test results

In case of abnormal results, your doctor will advise a few more tests, which are prenatal diagnostic genetic tests . These will conclusively determine if your fetus has a particular disorder. These prenatal tests are amniocentesis (testing of amniotic fluid), chronic villus sampling (CVS) that involves the testing of the placental tissue and a more detailed ultrasound. Depending on the results, you can consult your doctor and a genetic counselor and decide the next course of action.

Conclusion

It is always advisable to undergo the marker tests if your doctor has advised it since these tests can give you and your doctor valuable information about the pregnancy.

Infact, these tests coupled with diagnostic procedures like amniocentesis and ultrasounds can lead up to 60-70% of detection of pregnancy abnormalities.Although these are screening tests, it is always good to know the risks attached to your pregnancy, if any, and plan accordingly.

Author Bio:

Prapti Chauhan is a medical blogger with a history of working in the medical field. The author is passionate about learning and loves to share his knowledge, experience and thoughts on various healthcare topics such as cord blood banking, stem cell banking, umbilical cord blood and cord blood cell banking.

Total Views: 299Word Count: 795See All articles From Author

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