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What is the Double Marker Test in Pregnancy?
As one round out the first trimester, one may start to wonder. What color hair will the little one have? Will they look more like one of the partners? Will they be a fearless daredevil like the sister’s toddler?
At the same time, these things will remain a mystery for a while. The OB-GYN may offer specific tests or screenings to learn more about the growing baby, like their sex.
One diagnostic tool is called Double Marker Test, which involves giving blood analysis for specific chromosomal abnormalities markers.
Here is more about how and when the test performs, what it screens for, and what one expects when one receives the results.
Related: Prenatal Screening Tests
What is Double Marker Test
The double marker test is also called Maternal Serum Screening. It is part of a more inclusive screening called the first-trimester screening. It is not a definitive test. Instead, classify as a predictive test, it means results report the likelihood of Chromosomal Abnormalities.
Remarkably, this test screens for blood levels of both free beta-human chorionic gonadotrophin and pregnancy connecting plasma protein-A.
Here will be 22 pairs of XX chromosomes in female fetuses. Twenty-two pairs of XY chromosomes in male fetuses in a typical pregnancy.
It is a chromosomal condition in which there are extra chromosomes, like the following:
This common trisomy is trisomy 21 because there is an extra copy of chromosome 21, Trisomy 18, and trisomy 13.
These common chromosomal abnormalities involving an extra copy of chromosome 18. Edward’s syndrome or chromosome 13 Patau’s syndrome.
Levels of hCG and PAPP-A will be higher or lower than “normal” in pregnancies with chromosomal abnormalities.
However, blood levels alone don’t produce the results. Instead, the blood test using along with ultrasound, is called a Nuchal Translucency scan. It examines the clear tissue at the back of the baby’s neck.
Why a double marker test done
The first-trimester screening — double marker test and NT scan — is not mandatory. It is said, the screening and others like the cell-free DNA test. Recommends if one is over the age of 35 or may have an elevating risk of chromosomal issues. Like if one has a family history of a particular condition.
Important to remember the result only tells whether there is an increased risk of trisomy’s. It does not definitively find whether the baby has any abnormalities.
Before deciding whether one wants a double marker test, one will ask yourself what the results will mean to one in the long process.
Would you know about possible abnormalities that ease or worsen the anxiety?
Would one want to go for more invasive testing if one receives a result that indicates heightened risk?
Would the results change how one will manage the pregnancy?
It is all about personal choice and health history. So there are no right or wrong answers to the questions.
Timing of the double marker test
There is a limited time window on which the double marker test will be performing. The healthcare provider will have one appointment sometime near the end of the first trimester. It is possibly very early in the second trimester.
More specifically, one will have the blood drawn sometime between the weeks of 11 and 14.
Cost of the Double Marker Test
What one pays for the double marker test will depend on the insurance coverage and location. At the same time, the test is optional, and one may cover it under the health insurance policy.
Call the insurance provider to find out the coverage and whether one needs pre-authorization. Alternatively, one will call the hospital or lab to find out the cost and potential payment plans. Rebates if one doesn’t have the insurance.
This test is most frequently doing in space with the NT scan, so one will need to pay for both the tests for the complete first-trimester screening.
What to expect when the test is doing
A double marker test is a simple blood test. The doctor will write an order for one to take to a lab. It is a non-fasting test, so one may eat or drink normally before the appointment unless one is instructing.
Labs are changing when it comes to turnaround time. In general, one will expect to receive the results within about three days to a week. One may want to ask whether the clinic will call one or if one should call to get the outcome.
Standard results for the Double Marker Test
One will receive a low, moderate, and high-risk result.
Low-risk finds a “normal” result and means a low probability of the baby having Chromosomal Abnormalities.
If the result is in the normal range, one will only recommend more testing if other indicators like Family history and age. If one desires to learn more for some other reason.
Still, a low-risk result does not always mean the baby won’t have an issue. It is essential to note that the first-trimester screening only looks at markers for Down syndrome, Trisomy 13, and Trisomy 18 and not the other conditions.
Abnormal results for the Double Marker Test
Suppose the screening comes back as moderate and high-risk that is screen-positive” for abnormalities. One may choose to go over the result with a genetic counselor to learn more.
The result will confirm more exact and more harmful tests, like Noninvasive prenatal testing, Amniocentesis, and Chorionic villous sampling. At the same time, some of these tests carry some risk to the pregnancy, providing an exact overcome.
Since the Double Marker test is doing early on the pregnancy, the information gives one time to make essential decisions on more testing and medical treatments—the overall management of the pregnancy and delivery.
Knowing the risk will also help prepare for the potential one will have a child with special needs. Allow one to find the support that one will need.
What is an Amniocentesis Procedure?
Are there any risks connected with the double marker test?
No risks are connecting with this test. It is a routine, noninvasive blood test. Of course, be sure to follow the doctor’s instructions. Contact the provider with any concerns one will have.
Double marker test vs. NT scan
The double marker test and NT scan ultrasound are used together in the first-trimester screening for the correct results. The information accumulates from both tests results from a low, moderate, and high risk of abnormalities.
When performing without the double marker test, the NT scan is less effective at finding the potential abnormalities.
The NT scan allows the healthcare provider to use sound waves to collect a real-time image of the baby. It is performing around the same time as the double marker test.
At that point in pregnancy, late in the first trimester, the healthcare provider. It will measure the size of the precise area on the back of the baby’s neck. A doctor will also evaluate the development of the nasal bone, which will be another indicator of a trisomy.
These measurements are the combination with blood results and age-relating risk. They all calculate together to produce the baby’s potential risk of Down syndrome, trisomy 13, and 18.
To test or not to test? If one doesn’t know what to do, starting by weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the double marker test and first-trimester screening. Asking yourself how knowing this information will help inform the decision to get more testing and the management of the pregnancy.
Be sure to speak with the healthcare provider on this test. Its usefulness in light of the unique circumstances. No matter what one decides, close contact with the healthcare provider is key to a healthy pregnancy.
So, it is essential information on the topic of the Double marker test.
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