Every woman wishing to conceive desires that her pregnancy be carried to term without any health complications for herself or her child. Hence, medical and scientific advances make this possible through a Double Marker Test Screening. Read on to find out how it works and why it is beneficial!
What is a Double Marker Test (Dual Marker Test)?
Medically referred to as a maternal serum screening, it is a test part of the first-trimester screening. A predictive test in nature, it tracks the likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities.
Why Should You Take A Dual Marker Test In Pregnancy?
This test is not mandatory; that being said, it is recommended for individuals over the age of 35 or who have a family history of any chromosomal abnormality. The result only identifies if there is a risk and does not confirm the abnormality. It is your personal choice to get the test done or not. Chromosomal abnormalities like Down/Turner Syndrome can be identified earlier with this test.
Also read: Is Azithromycin safe for pregnancy
Double Marker Test Cost
The cost of the test depends on your insurance coverage and location. Although the test is optional, this test may be covered under your insurance policy. If you don't have insurance, contact your nearby hospital or lab to find out about the price range. The test can cost anywhere between Rs. 2,500 and 3,500 in India.
Double Marker Test Procedure
It is a simple blood test. It primarily screens for two components in your blood during pregnancy: Free Beta HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and PAPP (Pregnancy-associated plasma protein).
- HCG is higher in the case of Down/Turner syndrome
- PAPP is lower in the case of Down/Turner syndrome
The variance in these components' levels shows a high, low, or no risk.
What To Expect When The Dual Marker Test Is Done?
Your doctor will give you a written order for the test, which you must take to the lab. Fasting is not required for this test, so you may eat or drink normally before the test unless instructed otherwise.
Usually, it takes 3-7 days to receive the results. You can get in touch with your laboratory to know more about it.
Standard Results For The Double Marker Test
It could indicate a low, moderate, or high-risk result.
- Low risk or screen negative is considered normal and indicates that your baby's risk of having chromosomal abnormality is very low.
- If the results are normal/negative, but you have other risk factors such as family history, advanced age, etc., your doctor might recommend further testing to confirm.
- Low risk does not ensure your baby has absolutely no abnormality. It just indicates the chances of having an abnormality are very low.
Abnormal Results For The Double Marker Test
If your results come back as moderate or high risk, you can talk to a genetic counsellor to know more about it. To confirm, you can undergo NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing) like amniocentesis to verify the condition.
However, it's essential to know that these tests carry some risk to your pregnancy. Being aware that you might give birth to a baby with special needs will prepare you and provide you with time to find the support you need.
Is Double Marker Test Mandatory?
It is mandatory in most clinics if you are above 35 since the chances of abnormality increase at this age. Currently, it is offered for all age groups. It is your personal choice to get tested or not. Ask yourself if knowing this information might help you or not. Speak to your healthcare provider about the test.
Double Marker Test Normal Values In ng ml
For all age groups, the double marker test average value of hCG is 215-2,419 ng/ml, and PAPP is 1MoM (medium of median).
Difference between NT scan & double marker test
A nuchal translucency scan (NT scan) assesses a baby's risk of having a chromosomal abnormality or heart defects. Doctors usually combine the results of both tests (NT scan and dual marker test) to reach a conclusion.
The NT scan helps in collecting real-time images of the baby. This can help to provide measurements of the neck and nasal bone, which can help identify an abnormality (an indicator of trisomy).
Also read: Amla during pregnancy
Difference between the double marker and quadruple test
Double marker test analyses the level of two hormones - PAPP and HCG, whereas triple marker test analyses levels of three hormones - alpha fetoproteins (AFP), HCG, and Estriol. The quadruple test is more sensitive and is ideally recommended during the second trimester.
If your baby has a risk of chromosomal abnormalities, the levels of HCG will be high, and that of PAPP, AFP, and Estriol will be low. Depending on the risk category mother falls in, your doctor might suggest further invasive tests to confirm.
Summing Up Double (Dual) Marker Test
The Double Marker test is a predictive test during pregnancy to ensure the child does not have any chromosomal abnormalities. Though getting tested is an individual choice, women above 35 years must take this test as abnormalities tend to increase at this age.
In Which Week Is The Double Marker Test Done?
The Double Marker Test is conducted about 10-13 weeks into a pregnancy.
How Accurate Is The Double Marker Test?
A Double Marker Test is reliable in detecting about 7 out of 10 Down Syndrome children in specific studies. It has quite a high success rate and is recommended by medical professionals worldwide.
What If The Double Marker Test is Positive?
If a Double Marker Test ratio falls between 1:10 to 1:250, it is considered positive. To further determine the positive Double Marker Test result, a doctor may suggest further procedures such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.