advertisement
28 November 2003

AFP test

The alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood test is a test that screens for possible abnormalities of a baby.

0
When is it done:
16-18 weeks.

Type:
Screening.

Description:
The alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood test is a test that screens for possible abnormalities of a baby. A baby's liver secretes a sugar protein called alpha-fetoprotein and this protein will be evident in the mother's blood. Elevated levels of AFP may indicate defects such as spina bifida (open spine) or anencephaly (absence of the brain and part of the skull) or open abdominal (tummy) wall defects.

Low levels suggest Down's syndrome or other chromosomal defects. Should the test results not read at normal levels, it could lead to additional tests such as an amniocentesis.

The AFP test does not determine the existence of disorders; it only predicts their increased likelihood. The AFP test is often done in conjunction with an ultrasound and can be done either alone or in addition to other blood tests. The results are usually returned within a few days.

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Terrific Tea! »

Rooibos makes cocktails healthier Rooibos: an alternative energy drink

More than 10 reasons why rooibos is good for you

Today marks the first annual National Rooibos Day, which aims to raise awareness of the health benefits and many uses of rooibos tea.

Healthy? Are you sure? »

5 diseases we can get from animals Could your salon visit make you sick?

7 terrifying diseases you could have without knowing it

Not all serious illnesses come with tell-tale symptoms. There are diseases that can turn your body into a ticking time-bomb while you're unaware of any danger.