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About the test
What is this test done for?
Alpha feto-protein test is a test done to measure the levels of AFP in the blood.
Why is it Done?
AFP is produced by liver of unborn fetus. -It is done as a screening of the second trimester of pregnancy to detect the brain or spinal problems.
  • It may detect problems like spina bifida and anencephaly.
  • It is also done to screen Down’s syndrome or Edward’s syndrome.
  • It is also done to screen certain cancers.
When should it be performed?
The test is performed as screening.
  • Also tests human chorionic gonadotropin
  • Estriol, a hormone produced by placenta.
  • Inhibin A, a hormone produced by placenta.
  • In non pregnant women or in adult men it is done when there is suspicion of testes or ovarian cancer, stomach or liver cancer.
How is it done
A blood sample will be collected from a vein in your arm. For doing AFP, fasting is not required prior to sample collection.
Normal values in men and non-pregnant women is 0 to 40 ng/mL. In pregnant women from 15 to 18 weeks is 10- 150 ng/mL. In pregnant women, if the levels are high then it suggests:
  • Age of baby is wrong
  • Multi pregnancy, like twins or triplets.
  • The fetus has neural tube defect.
  • The baby’s intestines or other abdominal organs are outside the body, in condition named omphalocele.
  • The baby is not alive.
In non pregnant women or men, it suggests:
  • Cancer of liver or testes or ovaries.
  • Liver disease like cirrhosis or hepatitis.
  • Alcohol abuse.
If it is low in pregnant women it means:
  • Age of the baby is wrong
  • Baby may have Down’s syndrome.
In non pregnant adult, alpha feto protein is not present.
Other Tests
Fetal ultrasound or amniocentesis can be done to confirm the diagnosis. An ultrasound is also recommended.
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