What Are the Risks of False Positives With AFP Testing?

What Are the Risks of False Positives With AFP Testing?

What Is An AFP Test?

An AFP test, also known as the alpha feto-protein screening, is a blood test that is performed on pregnant women. The AFP test measures the amount of alpha feto-protein in the blood. AFP is a protein that is normally produced by the baby’s liver. AFP is normally found in the amniotic fluid, and can cross the placenta to the mother’s blood. Sometimes the AFP test is also referred to as the MSAFP test. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here

What Does An AFP Test Screen For?

An AFP test screens for abnormal levels of AFP. Abnormal levels of AFP can indicate several problems. Some of those problems are Down Syndrome, neural tube defects, defects in the abdominal wall of the fetus, or other chromosomal problems. Abnormal levels of AFP can also indicate twins, since two fetuses might be working to produce the protein. It might also indicate a miscalculated due date, or other things that are potentially harmless.

How Is An AFP Test Done?

An AFP test is done by taking a blood sample in between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy, and then having the sample sent off to the lab. Results are usually available within two weeks. The test is not very uncomfortable, and is fairly simple and straight forward.

All that is done is the blood drawing, and that usually only takes a few minutes. However, some women think that the test is risky to have done, and only advise that you get the test done if you are well aware of the risks and benefits to having it done.

Are There Any Risks To Having An AFP Done?

There are no real risks to having the AFP test done in and of itself. The majority of AFP tests come back with normal results. The ones that come back with abnormal results indicate that the baby might be at risk for some of the conditions listed above. If the test comes back with abnormal results, you will probably be recommended for more tests, some of which are pretty invasive and uncomfortable.

The AFP test is also known to have a high rate of false positives, which means that you could be made to take the more invasive tests for no reason. In fact, many experts think that as many as 80 percent of the positives that are received from the AFP test are false positives.

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Dr. Christine Lee, MD
Dr. Christine Lee, MD | ConceiveEasy
Dr. Christine Lee earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Biology and Master of Science in Biomolecular Organization. Dr. Lee is Lab Director for ConceiveEasy and is board certified as a High Complexity Laboratory Director (HCLD).