What is an Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) Test?
An alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is used to screen for certain birth defects, including neural tube defects like spina bifida. AFP is a protein that is produced by the foetus and is normally found in the mother's blood. A high level of AFP in the mother's blood may indicate that the baby has a birth defect. Conditions that may cause increased levels of AFP in the blood include hepatocellular carcinoma (a type of liver cancer), germ cell tumors (tumors that develop from reproductive cells), non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (a type of cancer that develops from lymphocytes), multiple myeloma (a type of cancer that starts in the bone marrow), pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer.
Pregnant women usually undergo the test between sixteen and twenty-two weeks of pregnancy.
Frequently asked questions
An AFP test is a blood test that measures the level of alpha-fetoprotein in your blood. Alpha-fetoprotein is a protein found in the blood and produced by the yolk sac and foetal liver.
A sample of your blood will be taken from a vein in your arm and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
f your AFP level is high, it may indicate the presence of a birth defect or cancer. If your AFP level is low, it may indicate that you are at risk for developing certain types of cancer.
You should not eat for at least eight hours before an AFP blood test because food can affect the results. You should, however, stay hydrated if you're undergoing this test.
AFP is a part of prenatal tests called multiple markers or triple screen tests. These tests can help diagnose Downs, Edwards and other genetic disorders. A triple screen includes - AFP, HCG & Estriol. In some cases a 4th parameter called Inhibin A is also included which helps in diagnosing Downs syndrome.
Other tests recommended if there is high risk or high AFP level ?Can gop for a Prenatal cell free DNA test which is a blood test done as early as 10th week of pregnancy..