A triple marker test is a blood test done during pregnancy. It checks the levels of three things in a pregnant woman’s blood, which are –
- Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and
- Estriol (a type of estrogen)
The major components of the Triple Marker Test
1. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)
Alpha-fetoprotein is a type of protein that is made by the growing fetus in the womb. As the fetus grows, the level of AFP in the body changes.
It reaches its highest level in the second trimester of pregnancy. At this time, the presence of AFP in the mother’s blood is very easy to see.
2. Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)
Human chorionic gonadotropin is a protein-rich hormone that is produced by the mother’s body after she conceives the baby. This is the initial action that aids pregnancy.
The level of HCG in the blood continues to rise gradually during pregnancy. Its level can also be seen in the blood, it does not build up in the blood at any other time.
Estriol is a type of estrogen and is also the primary female sex hormone. This keeps menstruation regular in the body.
It also plays an important role in the development of pregnancy.
A woman’s body produces estrogen in varying amounts at all times.
However, its levels increase during pregnancy. Even some estrogen is produced by the fetus.
The varying levels of these three elements in the blood can cause deficiencies in the fetus.
Simply put, changes in the level of these three elements can cause birth problems in the unborn baby.
Read: Blood Culture Test
The triple marker test is a type of screening test that identifies the disturbances of these three elements. This test does not diagnose problems in the baby.
But yes, it gives an accurate idea of the situation to the doctor, after which they may direct other specific tests that can properly diagnose the problems of the baby.
How is the Triple Marker Test Performed?
The Triple Marker Test can be done on any day and at any time. It does not take much time to show results.
First, the technician taking the blood sample applies an antiseptic solution to your arm and ties a band over the arm so that the vein can be easily seen and identified, and then takes a sample from your blood for investigation.
This procedure may cause mild discomfort or pain. After collecting the blood sample a bandage is applied over the skin to prevent the blood from discharging.
Some women get a slight wound or scratch at the bleeding site, but it also gets better in some time.
Why is the Triple Marker Test Performed?
The triple marker test is done in the second trimester of pregnancy, especially during 16 to 18 weeks.
Doctors recommend this test to all pregnant women. So that the problems developing in the baby growing in their womb can be recognized. This test is generally recommended when –
- The age of the expectant mother should be more than 35 years.
- There is a history of congenital diseases in the family.
- Exposure to harmful radiation rays.
- Certain medicines are being used during pregnancy that can affect the fetus.
- If a pregnant woman has sugar.
- If a woman gets a viral infection during pregnancy.
Triple screening is a multi-use test that identifies any obstacles that may prevent a pregnancy from continuing safely. The disorders that are identified by this test are as follows –
- Down syndrome
- Edwards syndrome
- Neural tube defect (This disorder affects the brain, spine, and spinal cord)
- Other chromosome abnormalities
Sometimes multiple pregnancies can also be recognized by Triple Marker Test and the progress of pregnancy can also be understood.
Preparation before the triple marker test
Triple Marker Test is a simple blood test, for which no special preparation is required.
Nevertheless, for a better diagnosis of the test results, it is necessary that all the medicines that the woman is taking should be communicated to the doctor.
Also, the woman should inform the doctor about her medical history. So that if the baby is facing any problem related to the woman, then the doctor can identify it in time and diagnose it.
What do triple marker test results mean?
The normal value of the triple marker test done at 16 weeks is as follows –
- AFP – 10 to 150 ng/mL ng/mL
- HCG – 9,000 to 210,000 units per liter U/L
- Estriol – 4 nmol per liter
These are sometimes referred to as positive results, which mean that the fetus may be at risk of congenital disabilities.
The list below explains which disease is indicated when the value changes.
- Higher than normal values of AFP are associated with neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
- A higher than normal value of hCG is associated with Down syndrome, while its low is associated with the risk of pregnancy.
- A low value of estriol also indicates Down syndrome.
There is a high chance that the result of this test will be wrong. This means that even if there is no risk of congenital disorder, it can be seen in the test.
Therefore, keep in mind that the triple marker test is just a screening test so that the doctor can know that they need to do more investigation in this direction so that the problem can be mitigated on time.
NOTE – The above information is given purely from an educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice from a doctor.
What are the benefits of the triple marker test?
A triple marker test can diagnose a baby with Down syndrome (a genetic disorder) or spina bifida.
In addition, this test can also indicate the presence of multiple fetuses in the pregnancy.
If all test results are normal, the chances of having a child with a genetic disorder may be low and the child may be born without any of the diseases.
Through the triple marker test, we get to know the related diseases, which we can treat in time.
Risks associated with triple marker test
There are no side effects for both the baby and the mother in this test procedure.
Since the triple marker screening test is done with a blood test, you may only feel the prick of the needle while the blood is being drawn.
However, if the needle is infected, it can put both the mother and the fetus at risk of infection. Furthermore, there is no risk in general from the triple marker screen test.
What is the cost of the test?
Triple Marker Test costs can vary from 1200 to 4200 rupees. This cost may be more or less depending on the doctor and the hospital.
You must have come to know through this article how important the triple marker screen test is for a pregnant woman and fetus.
Along with this, it is also known that knowing the birth defects caused to the fetus by this test can be treated on time.
If you are a pregnant woman, then this article can be beneficial for you.
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