An AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) test is a simple blood test. It can show whether your fetus has signs of some birth defects. This test is done between weeks 15 and 20 of pregnancy.
You'll get your AFP test results within 2 weeks. These results show the presence of certain fetal substances in your blood. Your results can alert your doctor to possible birth defects.
Most AFP results are negative (normal). This means the test results show no signs of the birth defects tested for. Sometimes results are positive (abnormal). Often, this is simply because:
Your due date is different than first thought.
You have twins.
Some positive results show that the fetus may have one of the following birth defects:
Neural tube defects (problems with the spine, such as spina bifida)
Abdominal wall defects (problems with the body of the fetus)
Genetic defects (physical or mental problems, such as Down syndrome)
While it happens rarely, AFP test results can be wrong. These are called false negatives or false positives. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider any questions you have about your results.
Publication Source: American Pregnancy Association
Online Source: American Pregnancy Association
Date Last Reviewed: 2004-08-23T00:00:00-06:00
Date Last Modified: 2002-07-09T00:00:00-06:00
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