Triple marker test is one of the pregnancy tests carried out between 15th and 20th week of pregnancy. Triple marker test helps to detect whether the unborn baby is suffering from Down syndrome or any other genetic disorders. Read on to know more about Triple marker pregnancy tests and other facts related to this test. You will also find information about other related tests like double marker test and triple marker test.
Triple marker test is also known as maternal serum screening test or multiple marker test or triple test. This is a blood test that is performed usually between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy. This gives useful information about the pregnancy and the health of the child in the womb. It gives the probability of any problem, if found in the foetus. The test is done and examined by a computer program and this indicates whether or not the foetus has Down syndrome or other birth defects or chromosomal disorders.
What is the purpose of undergoing a triple marker test?
The main purpose of the triple marker test is to find whether the mother is going to give birth to a child with Down syndrome or other birth defects like spina bifida and anencephaly or not. This test also depicts results of some more increased risks that are associated with pregnancy, the mother and the foetus as well. Although, the percentage of children with Down syndrome is very less, this test at least gives a satisfaction to the about-to-be parents that whether they need to keep the baby or not. The early detection helps them decide in a better way. In fact this type of disease is due to chromosomal abnormalities and is a genetic condition found in children born with Down syndrome.
Is it necessary to undergo a triple marker test?
All women must undergo a triple marker test. This test is specially recommended to women who are above 35 years of age, have a family history of genetic disorders, have had any kind of viral infection during pregnancy, have been exposed to any kind of higher level of radiation, have diabetes and have been using insulin.
What is the accuracy of the triple marker test?
To get more accurate results, it is recommended that this test should be conducted between 16th to 18th week of pregnancy.
How does the triple marker test work?
A sample of blood is taken to check the levels of AFP, HGC, and estriol in it. High level of AFP ( a protein produced by foetus) indicates that foetus may develop defects like neural tube defects. It may also indicate the failure of the abdomen of foetus to close.
If the test indicates low level of HGC which is a hormone produced by placenta, it can be the sign of potential miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. High levels may indicate a multiple pregnancy or a molar pregnancy.
Low level of estriol which is an oestrogen produced by placenta and foetus indicates that the baby may be born with Down syndrome. The risk is higher if the low level of estriol is marked with low level of AFP and high level of HGC.
If AFP, HGC, and estriol are present in abnormal levels, it may indicate that the defects like spina bifida and anencephaly are present in the foetus. It may also indicate that the pregnant woman may be carrying twins or triplets. Abnormal levels also indicate Down syndrome or Edwards syndrome. An extra copy of chromosome 21 is developed by foetus when it develops Down syndrome. Down syndrome may be responsible for learning disability and other medical problems in the child. Edwards syndrome may affect the larger areas of a child's health causing medical complications. These medical complications can prove to be life-threatening during the first months or years of the child’s birth. According to the Trisomy 18 Foundation, only 50% of foetuses survive with this condition to birth.
How is the triple marker test carried out?
A triple marker test can usually be carried out at a hospital, lab or doctor’s clinic where the facility is available. It is carried out just like a normal blood test by drawing blood from the veins. Your healthcare provider will clean the area of your arm which will be used to insert a needle. In order to trace your vein, he or she will use a tightening band or device. Once your vein becomes accessible, he or she will draw the blood with the help of the needle and clean the area with a cotton swab and put the bandage on the affected area. After the blood is drawn, it is sent to the lab for screening. Women may feel a little discomfort at the sight from where the blood is drawn due to the prick of the needle. Apart from that they may not experience any side effect.
What kind of precautions are necessary?
It is very important to say the right age of the foetus because if there is error in determining the age of the foetus, it can lead to errors when the results are interpreted. However, this test is just a screening test and it will only indicate the probability of the child having Down syndrome or other birth defects. There are debates going on because the results are not 100% correct according to some specialists.
The precaution should also be taken by the nurse who collects the blood sample so that the sample is prevented from transmission of any blood borne pathogens. The sample of the blood is taken from the vein of the pregnant woman and the test is done to detect any problem related to the development of the brain and spinal cord of the foetus. This test also detects one of the genetic disorders, Down syndrome, which is in reality a chromosomal abnormality.
What kind of preparations are required?
Women do not need to do any specific kind of preparation for undergoing this test. If there are any requirements, your healthcare provider may inform you in advance.
What are the problems associated with the triple marker test?
The only problem associated with this test is that it is expensive and is not carried out in all nursing homes. If you want to get the test done you will have to find out whether it is done at any nursing homes in your city or not.
Some women do not give importance to this type of test. The main reason behind this is their ignorance. They are not aware of the benefits that are associated with this test. The main thing is that most pregnant women do not know about the test and the prevention possible due to this.
How does this test help the couples?
Based on the results of the test and doctor’s advice, the couples may take a decision upon whether they should continue with the pregnancy or if they should abort it. Abortion can be an option for them which they can exercise instead of carrying a high risk pregnancy. They can also choose to undergo additional screenings and tests under the supervision of their doctor before making any hasty decision. As per the doctor’s advice and under his or her guidance and their personal experience, the couples can then plan for a healthy pregnancy. This decision can help them to give birth to a healthy baby. Nowadays, the services of genetic counsellors are also available. So, couples can take their decision after consulting a genetic counsellor. By undergoing genetic counselling couples can also make themselves aware of other useful resources and support for decision making.
Is a triple marker test better than double marker test?
Doctors suggest triple marker tests when double marker tests show abnormalities. In double marker test only two hormones are checked. These hormones are known as HCG and PAPP-A. In the triple marker test more than 2 hormones are checked.
Is fasting necessary before undergoing a triple marker test?
There is no need to fast before undergoing a triple marker test. Having a usual diet will not make any difference as it is a non-invasive test which is carried out by taking a sample of blood. This test does not have any side effects or risks.
What is the cost of a triple marker test in India?
The cost of test ranges from Rs.1250/- to Rs.4200/-. The cost of Portea's triple marker test is Rs.1700/-. If this test is carried out through a home visit, additional Rs.99/- are charged.
How to prevent birth defects in a baby?
It is very important to follow a healthy lifestyle and opt for healthy choices in order to prevent birth defects in a baby. Taking folic acid supplement is very important as per the advice of an obstetrician. Also it is extremely crucial to avoid alcoholic drinks, drugs and smoking. It is necessary to follow the instructions of the obstetrician if you are coping with any medical condition like diabetes, high blood pressure etc. Try to maintain a healthy weight. Avoid acquiring any kind of disease or infection during pregnancy period. If at all any disease or infection is acquired during this period it should be managed effectively under strict supervision of an obstetrician. At the same time it is necessary to take vaccinations recommended by doctors during the recommended period of time. Do not take any over-the-counter medicine or any other medicine which is not prescribed by your obstetrician. You must also take care that you avoid overheating by avoiding hot tubs and sauna baths.
Which are the other tests that are used for detecting chromosomal abnormalities?
The other tests that are used for detecting chromosomal abnormalities during pregnancy include tests like double marker test, quadruple marker test, Chorionic Villus Sampling ( CVS ) and amniocentesis. These tests are used to detect chromosomal abnormalities in the baby during pregnancy.
What is the probability of false results?
The triple marker test may show false results in case of undetected tumours and mosaicism. In this case the genetic makeup carried by the cells in the mother is different which can be responsible for the false results. This case can be referred to as cell-free DNA or cfDNA where the detection of Down Syndrome can be 99% accurate whereas the chances of false results is 1%.
What is the difference between triple marker test and quadruple test?
In the triple marker test the level of three substances in a woman’s blood is measured. These substances include substances like Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP), Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), and Estriol (uE3). The quadruple test measures the level of four substances which are the hormone inhibin A along with the substances measured in the triple marker test.
Is it necessary to do a quadruple test after doing a triple test?
The substances tested in both triple and quadruple tests provide different information about the potential birth defects or genetic disorders in the baby. The combination of results provided by both of these tests may provide best information to your obstetrician. Your obstetrician will check the levels of different substances measured in the test. He or she will also consider your age as well as other health and medical conditions to tell if your baby is at risk of suffering from any kind of birth defect or genetic disorder. Therefore, it is advisable for couples to follow the instructions of the doctor on whether they should undergo both the tests or not.
What is the importance of awareness about triple marker tests?
Awareness is very important among women and this comes through education. When you are pregnant you should find out everything related to you, childbirth and the health related precautions and tests. It is very essential the health care centres or organizations related to this field, educate people about the availability and benefits of these tests.
Even today many people do not undergo tests thinking that it is just a way of making money for the doctors and medical professionals. There is a need to eradicate this mentality and develop awareness in both the people and the medical professionals.What is a triple marker test? How is the triple marker test carried out? During which week or month of pregnancy is the triple marker test carried out? Discuss here.