The triple marker test is known by several names. It is sometimes called the triple marker screen test or multiple marker tests, triple test, multiple marker screening, or even the AFP Plus. The test is used to analyze how likely it is for the unborn baby to develop certain genetic disorders. The levels of three important substances in the placenta would be measured. These include estriol, human chorionic gonadotropin, and alpha-fetoprotein. The triple marker screening is administered just like any other blood test. The test would generally be conducted on women who have been pregnant for 15 to 20 weeks. There is an alternative to this test, which is known as the quadruple marker screen test. That test would also look at a substance that goes by the name inhibin A.
The CBC blood test is also conducted like the triple marker test. The count of all the blood cells is conducted, which gives a fair health status of the person.
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What is the purpose of the triple marker screen test?
The triple marker screen test would take a sample of blood and then conduct tests to measure the levels of HCG, AFP, and estriol.
- AFP – This is actually a protein that is produced by the foetus. If high levels of this protein are present, it might indicate certain potential defects like a failure of the foetal abdomen to close or neural tube defects.
- HGC – The placenta is responsible for producing this hormone. Lower levels of this hormone generally point to potential pregnancy problems. These could be an ectopic pregnancy or a possible miscarriage. The high levels would indicate multiple pregnancies with two or more children or even a molar pregnancy.
- Estriol – This is an estrogen that is obtained from the placenta as well as the foetus. The low estriol levels might indicate that the baby could suffer from Down syndrome. This condition can occur especially if there are high levels of HGC and low levels of AFP.
The lipid profile test is a similar test that checks the levels of different types of cholesterol in the body.
What are the abnormal levels of these substances?
The abnormal levels of these substances can indicate various problems. These include:
- an improper timeline where the pregnancy might have proceeded further along or not as much as expected
- neural tube defects like anencephaly or spina bifida
- multiple infants like triplets or twins
Edwards syndrome or Down syndrome can be indicated as well by the abnormal levels. If the fetus has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, it is known as down syndrome. Learning disabilities and other medical problems might ensue. Extensive medical complications occur in fetuses with Edwards syndrome. The conditions might even threaten life in the first few months or even in the years following birth. Only about 50% of these children are able to survive.
Who would benefit from the triple marker test?
The triple marker test would help the parents to assess the options and prepare the prospective parents. These alert the doctors to watch the growth of these fetuses much more carefully. The test is much more recommended for women who have had a family history of birth defects or are more than 35 years old. They are also common in those who use regular insulin.
How would the triple marker test be administered?
The triple marker test would generally be done in a clinic or hospital. It can even be conducted in the office of a doctor. A patch of skin would be cleaned where the needle would be inserted into a vein. Blood would be drawn and then the vial is removed.
The triple marker test would help to understand the health status of the patients.