When are the AFP tests and gestational diabetes tests done?

April 13, 2010

The AFP test is an Alpha Fetoprotein test. It is a protein that is present during the lifespan of a fetus before delivery. After delivery its concentration reduces to the level that may be seen in adults. It is detectable throughout life and can be tested as a marker for tumors that may exist in a person affected by cancer. While this does not confirm the existence of cancer, it is used as a clue that cancer might exist in the person. Thus, if used as a preliminary test, it could lead doctors to further test a patient for cancer or tumors. the test could be used to detect cancer cells in the liver that are a result of a cancer that has occurred in another part of the body. This is also a marker for the progress of the cancer and can indicate a widespread cancer.

For a pregnant mother, the Alpha Fetoprotein levels are indicative of the possibility of abnormalities in child birth. It is tested through the amniotic fluid and is relatively high in syndromes such as neural tube defects and low in syndromes such as Down syndrome. The Alpha Fetoprotein can be measured in the amniotic fluid or on the mother's serum.

Gestational diabetes is the occurrence of hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels in a pregnant mother. This could also occur in a normal woman who does not have diabetes before she becomes pregnant. The high blood sugar also passes once the baby is born. It does not have many symptoms associated with it immediately. High blood sugar may be caused due to a variety of hormones that a woman has in her bloodstream during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes can have a detrimental effect on the child. It can cause excessive growth in the child which may necessitate a 'C section' delivery due to size complications. It could also lead to jaundice or low blood sugar in the new born baby. Gestational diabetes is linked to a family history of diabetes. It is also linked to obese women and also to the age of the mother.

Both these tests are done as part of the standard procedures during pregnancy as the fetus develops. All the tests conducted during pregnancy are used as markers for some potential problem that might affect the fetus or the mother. They are therefore conducted in order to take preventative or corrective steps and ensure a healthy baby.

Submitted by M T on April 13, 2010 at 11:35

Read more questions in Medical Tests