Through various tests and screening, an expectant mother can get slight hints of how healthy the pregnancy will be. One such common diagnostic tool is the double marker test which helps the mother learn many things about the baby beforehand without any concern, and it is quite inexpensive.
It's normal to be apprehensive to take such tests, but they are necessary for the baby's health. So, here is a comprehensive guide for the dual marker test.
Overall, the double marker test in pregnancy is necessary to rule out any possibilities of severe disorders like Edwards’ syndrome or Down syndrome, which can affect any child's development.
Why is the Double Marker Test Done?
A double marker test in pregnancy recommends for detecting any abnormalities associated with the foetus. This pregnancy test checks the human chorionic gonadotropin, i.e. free Beta hCG, and pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A, i.e. PAPP-A. The test helps to screen out any neurological disorders present in the foetus, including Down syndrome and Edwards’ syndrome.
Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when an abnormal division of cells occurs in the foetus resulting in the presence of a partial or full copy of chromosome 21. The severity of this disorder ranges from lifelong intellectual disability to heart disorders.
Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13
Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13 comprise various congenital disabilities, including intellectual disability and severe health problems. The babies born with it are prone to the risk of dying by the age of 1 year.
With the above chromosomal abnormalities, the levels of hCG and PAPP-A may be either higher or lower than “normal” in pregnancies.
When is the Double Marker Test Required in Pregnancy?
The double marker test required in pregnancy is not one of the mandatory tests that every expectant mother should undergo, but it is recommended. Most doctors prescribe this test during the first trimester of pregnancy to prevent any unforeseen complications in the baby after birth.
The window for undergoing this type of test is relatively small, and in most cases, one’s healthcare provider will be able to suggest a suitable time. This procedure is generally performed from the gestation age of 11 to 14 weeks. This test is highly recommended for women who are over the age of 35 years or those with elevated risks of chromosomal issues.
How Should One Prepare for the Double Marker Test?
The marker test can be treated as a simple blood test and is not at all complicated. Changing one’s lifestyle is not necessary before taking the test. Moreover, the test is a non-fasting type of test; so one can drink or normally eat before the appointment unless instructed.
However, one should let the doctor be aware of any pre-existing allergies or medications that can create an issue. The simple nature of the test is explained through its procedure which starts with an ultrasound scan. Following the NT-Scan, a nurse takes the blood sample, which is analysed. Overall, there are no special requirements for this test.
What to Expect When The Test is Done?
The procedure for the double marker test is simple. This test begins with an ultrasound known as nuchal translucency (NT) scan which examines the clear tissue at the back of the neck of your baby accompanied by a simple blood test to determine the two markers in a pregnant woman.
The two markers included in the double marker test in pregnancy are as follows:
The human chorionic gonadotropin, i.e. Free Beta hCG, is the first marker of the test. High levels of Free Beta hCG convey that the foetus is at risk of developing Trisomy that leads to Down syndrome.
The pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A, i.e. PAPP-A, is the second marker of the double marker test in pregnancy. Low levels of PAPP-A convey that the foetus is prone to Down syndrome.
Double Marker Test vs. NT Scan - What is the Difference?
The test results could be either negative or positive, along with the possibility of Down syndrome.
Standard Results of Double Marker Test
The results of the double marker test generally fall under three categories: low risk, moderate/normal and high risk. If the result of the double marker test conveys a lower risk, it means that there is a low probability for the baby to have chromosomal abnormalities.
Abnormal Results of Dual Marker Test
While if the expecting mother receives a normal or moderate result, then she is recommended to go for further testing. However, the recommendation is only given if the family has a past history of chromosomal abnormalities or if the mother wants reassurance by learning more about it.
The high-risk result indicates that the baby is more likely to get chromosomal abnormalities. In such cases, further tests are conducted, and the mother can decide to abort the pregnancy if she is not ready for it.
Cost of Double Marker Test
The double marker test cost varies depending on hospital, city, availability and quality. For instance, in
Mumbai: The Test cost starts at Rs. 1800
Pune: The Test cost starts at Rs. 1280
Delhi: The Test cost starts at Rs. 1231
Noida: The Test cost starts at Rs. 1350
Hyderabad: The Test cost starts at Rs. 760
Overall, the ranges are somewhere between INR 2,500 and 3,500, which includes the cost of an ultrasound scan, blood test and blood test analysis.
Benefits of the Double Marker Test
The double marker test helps assess the following in an unborn baby:
Helps in the early detection of abnormalities: A double marker test is done to detect Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 21. Additionally, it can help in the early detection of conditions like preeclampsia, foetal growth restriction and placental restrictions.
Helps in making vital decisions about the pregnancy: It helps in the early detection of abnormalities in the baby and assists the doctor to find the best treatment option. This will also make the mothers aware of the complications at an early stage so they can make an early call regarding the continuation/termination of pregnancy while reducing the complications for both the baby and the mother.
Risks Associated with the Double Marker Test in Pregnancy
There are no risks associated with the double marker test. The test is a non-invasive type; however, following the instructions of the doctor is necessary.
Undergoing a double marker test in pregnancy is highly recommended, and one should remember that the test results only predict the overall risks, if any.
The double marker test cost is minimum, and one can get an idea of the risk of the disorder. Consulting a professional healthcare provider and genetic professional is necessary to know whether additional tests are required.