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Maternal Serum AFP Blood Test

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The Maternal Serum AFP Blood Test screens for potential fetal abnormalities such as neural tube defects and chromosomal abnormalities during pregnancy.


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Test Code:


CPT Code(s):



Immunoassay (IA)




No special preparation is required. 

Test Results:

2-4 days. May take longer based on weather, holiday, or lab delays.

Walk-In Lab is prohibited from selling Quest tests to residents in the following states:AZ, NY, NJ, RI

What is the purpose of this test?

A Maternal Serum AFP Blood Test is a type of prenatal screening test that measures the levels of a protein called alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in a pregnant woman's blood. This test is usually done between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy to screen for certain congenital disabilities in the developing baby, such as neural tube defects or Down syndrome. High levels of AFP may indicate a problem with the baby's development, while low levels of AFP may suggest a risk of chromosomal abnormalities. However, it's important to note that an abnormal AFP result doesn't necessarily mean there is a problem with the baby, and further testing may be needed to confirm any potential issues.


Benefits of the Maternal Serum AFP Blood Test:

  1. Early detection of neural tube defects: AFP levels in maternal blood can indicate the presence of neural tube defects in the fetus, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, allowing for early detection and appropriate management.
  2. Screening for chromosomal abnormalities: Elevated or decreased AFP levels may signal the presence of chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, including Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, and Patau syndrome, prompting further diagnostic testing or counseling.
  3. Risk assessment for multiple gestations: Maternal serum AFP levels can help assess the risk of complications in pregnancies involving multiple gestations, such as twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), where an imbalance in blood flow between twins can lead to serious health issues.
  4. Facilitating informed decision-making: The Maternal Serum AFP Blood Test provides expectant parents with valuable information about the health status of the fetus, empowering them to make informed decisions regarding prenatal care, potential interventions, and preparation for the birth of a child with special needs.
  5. Offering reassurance: Normal AFP levels can provide reassurance to expectant parents regarding the low likelihood of certain fetal abnormalities, alleviating anxiety and stress associated with pregnancy.
  6. Monitoring fetal health: Serial measurements of AFP levels throughout pregnancy can help monitor fetal development and identify changes that may warrant closer observation or medical intervention.
  7. Supporting genetic counseling: Results from the Maternal Serum AFP Blood Test can be used in conjunction with other prenatal screening tests and family medical history to provide comprehensive genetic counseling, assisting families in understanding their risk of genetic conditions and making informed decisions about future pregnancies.


When should I order a Maternal Serum AFP Blood Test?

A Maternal Serum AFP Blood Test is usually ordered during pregnancy to check for potential congenital disabilities or chromosomal abnormalities in the developing baby. Some of the symptoms that may indicate the need for this test include:

  • A family history of congenital disabilities or genetic disorders
  • Maternal age over 35
  • A previous child with congenital disabilities or chromosomal abnormalities
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Use of certain medications that can affect fetal development
  • Abnormal results on other prenatal tests such as ultrasound or amniocentesis

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have any concerns about your pregnancy, you should discuss with your healthcare provider about whether a Maternal Serum AFP Blood Test is appropriate for you.

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