Pregnancy Testing

Alpha-Feto Protein Screen (AFP)

The Alpha-Feto Protein (AFP) Screen is a blood test to screen for neural tube and chromosomal abnormalities. It does have a high incidence of false positives and can have a false negative.

AFP is produced by your baby’s liver and is present in your baby’s blood and transfers to your blood. Your blood will be screened to determine the amount of AFP. As your baby grows, the level of AFP rises, so for accuracy it is important to know how old the baby is. This screening test is most accurate between 16 – 18 weeks pregnancy (18-20 weeks gestation).

High levels of AFP can mean:

Low levels of AFP can mean:

Because this is a screening test, a positive finding only indicates the possibility of a problem. Further testing will be necessary to determine if your baby is having a problem. 98% of women who receive positive results turn out to have healthy babies.

If spina bifida is confirmed through further testing, you will have the opportunity to give birth via cesarean surgery to prevent compression of the spinal cord. However, spinal defects are rare, only one or two per 1000 babies. Many babies with spinal defects miscarry.

If your test comes back high your choices will be to:

If your test comes back low your choices will be to:

See also Multiple Marker Screening