Double marker test in pregnancy

Being pregnant is quite a special time in a woman’s life, but it can also be stressful and scary. Depending on the health of the mother, child, etc., a gynecologist may advise one to partake in specific tests and medical procedures for the safety of all involved. One of the tests that are carried out in pregnancy is known as the double marker test, and it’s also called the dual marker test. Many pregnant women are often worried at this point because they do not know what this test entails. But we assure you that there is nothing to worry about. By the end of this article, you will better understand the test and all its parts.

Also read: Effects of smoking during pregnancy

What is a double marker test

The double marker test is known as the first-trimester screening. It is a predictive blood test that reports the likelihood that you might have a child with a chromosomal abnormality. It measures the amount of two substances from the mother’s blood: AFP and hCG. Both of these substances are associated with Down syndrome, so by measuring both, it becomes easier to tell if there is an increased risk of the abnormality.

Namely, they are designed to notify expecting parents if their child may face health risks related to their chromosomes. With a predictive test, one can be told that there’s an above-average chance that they will give birth to a baby with Down syndrome if certain risk factors, when being older than 35 when pregnant, exist. On top of this, you and your partner can decide whether you want to be retested for specific abnormalities seven weeks after your first screening is finished.

A dual marker test being advised by medical professionals to pregnant women is conducted for identifying any chromosomal defects in the fetus. Congenital disabilities are unfortunately developed/experienced a lot because of such chromosomal defects affecting the baby’s health that may also affect their development over time though rare. The test also helps detect certain health conditions in the fetus and adults and is typically conducted between the 9th and 14th week of pregnancy and involves a blood sample test. It is meant for pregnant women, but some factors make a woman more likely to need the test than others. Paternal age, whether or not you’ve given birth before, and your lifestyle all factor into figuring out which tests are necessary when on this quest for a baby.

Double marker test procedure

A blood sample is typically taken from the pregnant patient and tested for the levels of Beta HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin hormone) and PAPP-A (Pregnancy-associated plasma protein). The levels of HCG will help identify if there are any neural defects with the baby, as well as more significant complications that might arise. In tandem with this information gathered from the blood sample, an ultrasound may also be done as a part of this blood test. 

How to prepare for the test

The test is not very different from other blood tests and does not require any special pre-preparations. But make sure to discuss with your doctor any allergies you might have as well as the medications if you happen to be taking any at the moment. Depending on what details you provide, you might be asked to stop taking your medicines before the test is done. 

Cost of dual marker test

Double marker tests can cost somewhere between $500 and $2,000, depending on where you are applying for them. This test was once considered quite expensive but is now available in most hospitals and private health establishments. Though the total amount one must pay for the test taken is often higher than what many would consider affordable, some places will be cheaper than others.

Double marker test report analysis

Before we even get into the normal range, it’s crucial to understand how the dual marker test works. Results are broken up into two categories: positive and negative. The result does not mean that the baby has a disorder. Instead, it just assesses the baby’s chances of having one. The results are presented in probabilities. A probability of 1:10 to 1:250 will be classified as a ‘screen positive’ result, indicating a 30-40% risk for Down syndrome. This means further diagnostic testing needs to be done. On the other hand, a numerical ratio of 1:1000 is considered ‘screen negative’, indicating that there is a meager (less than 10%) chance of the child having an abnormality. But for the results to be considered a true reflection of the baby’s chances, doctors recommend further testing.

It’s natural to feel a little worried if the test results are positive, this can be difficult. It’s important to realize that this isn’t the end of the world. Children with these defects can lead an everyday life like the rest of us and need a little extra care. 

Difference between double marker and triple marker test

A double marker test is a predictive test that reports the likelihood that you might have an abnormal or unbalanced chromosomal arrangement in your genes, leading to problems with the baby’s development or other possible deficiencies and deformities. The triple marker screening, also known as the triple test, multiple markers (screening), and AFP Plus Test assesses how likely it might be for an unborn child to have genetic disorders such using three substances found in human cells: alpha-fetoprotein (AFP).

Difference between NT scan and double marker test

Performed between the 13th and 15th week of pregnancy, the nuchal translucency scan(NT Scan) is a mandatory part of your prenatal health examination. However, many hospitals make it an optional procedure. Your OB-GYN will likely recommend performing this test on you because it can determine important information about your baby’s well-being. 

A Nuchal Translucency Scan (or NT) is not always a cause for concern. The clear fluid-filled space behind your baby’s back will help your doctor understand if there are any anomalies with your fetus. During an NT, an abdominal ultrasound will be used to measure the thickness of this area. Abnormal thickness could indicate Down Syndrome, Edward’s Syndrome, or something else entirely.

A double marker test is a blood test that can help diagnose Down syndrome. You measure the concentration of two fluids in a blood sample: AFP and hCG. These tests work in the same way as a Nuchal Translucency scan because they both check to see if there are future health problems with your baby.

Frequently asked questions

There are many misconceptions and myths about the tests. To help you better understand what it is, we will answer some of the most common questions and provide you with the necessary information.

What are the benefits of this technique?

The double marker technique can help doctors diagnose pregnant patients much faster than other techniques. It provides low-cost, quick, and highly accurate results.

Who is at the risk of testing positive for the test?

Anyone can test positive for the test, but women over 35 or those with a family history of congenital disabilities are more likely to be tested positive.

Is the double marker test mandatory?

It isn’t mandatory. However, such a test is essential to pinpoint certain medical risks.

Is the double marker test done on an empty stomach?

This is a simple and easy process. You can eat or drink normally before your appointment unless you are given specific instructions by your doctor to abstain from certain food items or beverages before the meeting.

What are some conditions that can result in a false positive?

Some conditions that can result in a false positive include: being pregnant with twins, being pregnant with triplets or more, having multiple births for any reason.

What if the test is positive?

If a woman is expecting a baby and finds out during her pregnancy that the baby may have a chromosomal abnormality, she will likely be referred to a specialist or geneticist. A geneticist is someone who examines chromosomes in great depth. The geneticist might ask for more tests, such as ultrasounds to confirm the child’s health, heart checks, and amniocentesis (a prenatal medical test where amniotic fluid surrounding a fetus is removed from the uterus), or additional blood work.

What if the test is negative?

If the results return negative, there is very little chance that your baby will have any chromosomal or neurological defects.

Also read: Medical abortion


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