Triple or Quadruple Screen Test: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Somewhere between weeks 15 and 20 of your pregnancy, you can choose to have a blood test to learn more about the health of your developing baby (fetus). Your doctor can use the results plus your age and the fetus's age to estimate the risk of certain health problems. These may include Down syndrome or a spine that is not closed (spina bifida).

Your doctor may prefer either the triple screen or the quadruple (quad) screen. The triple screen measures the amounts of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and estriol (uE3) in your blood. The quad measures these three plus inhibin A.

These tests can only tell if there is a chance that there might be a problem. They cannot tell for certain that there is a problem. If test results point to a problem, your doctor may suggest other tests to find out for sure if there is a problem. These tests include amniocentesis and ultrasound.

You get to decide if you want to have these tests. Be sure to talk about your preferences and concerns with your doctor.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Why would you have a triple or quadruple screen?

  • You want to know if there is a good chance that the fetus is healthy.
  • You would be anxious for the rest of your pregnancy if you didn't know that the fetus may have something wrong.
  • Your doctor recommends the test.
  • Your risk of having a baby with a problem is higher than normal.

Why would you not have the screen?

  • Your doctor recommends that you have an amniocentesis. In this case, screening may not be helpful. This is because the amniocentesis will give more information.
  • You think the test would make you anxious.
  • You would continue the pregnancy if tests showed that the pregnancy was not normal.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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