What is a Double Marker Test? Is Double Marker Test Necessary? What is the Normal Value for Double Marker Test

What is a Double Marker Test? Is Double Marker Test Necessary? What is the Normal Value for Double Marker Test?

Are you in your first trimester? Then you probably would start wondering:

  • What colour hair your little one might have?
  • Will he/she look more like you or your partner?
  • Will they be shy and caring or naughty and fearless?

While these things keep running in your mind and remain a mystery for some time, but your gynaecologist will offer you certain tests that shall help you learn more about your growing baby, including their sex.

One diagnostic tool that is used is called the double marker test. In this process, you will be requested to provide blood that will be analyzed against the markers that determine certain chromosomal abnormalities.

So, pregnant ladies, let us catch up more on the double marker test, in this write-up, like:

  • How and when it is performed?
  • What does it screen?
  • What can you expect when you receive the results of the test? 

So, before moving ahead let us get a better idea about what a double marker test means.

What is a Double Marker Test?

The double marker test also referred to as maternal serum screening, is a part of first-trimester screening. This test is not considered as a definitive test, rather considered as a predictive test, which means the results provide the information of the likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities.

Double marker test screens for both:

  • Free beta-human chorionic gonadotrophin (beta-hCG)
  • Pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A)

There will be 22 pairs of XX chromosomes in female fetuses and 22 pairs of XY chromosomes in the case of male fetuses, during a typical pregnancy.

Apart from this, a trisomy is a chromosomal condition that contains extra chromosomes, such as the following:

  • Down Syndrome – Also referred to as trisomy 21 because of the availability of an extra copy of chromosome 21.
  • Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13 – These chromosomal abnormalities have an extra copy of chromosome 18 (Edward’s syndrome) or chromosome 13 (Patau’s syndrome).

The levels of hCG and PAPP-A can be low or high during pregnancies with chromosomal abnormalities. However blood tests alone will not produce the results, instead, a blood test along with an ultrasound called a nuchal translucency (NT) scan is done, which determines and examines the clear tissue that is available at the back of your baby’s neck.

Why is a Double Marker Test Done?

It isn’t mandatory to carry out double marker test and NT scans during the first-trimester screening. But, if you are over the age of 35, a cell-free DNA test may also be recommended as it may show an elevated risk of chromosomal issues.

So, it is important to remember that the results only convey whether there is an increased risk of trisomies or not, but does not definitively determine if your baby is having abnormalities or not.

If you are worried about what the results would mean to you in the long run, then make a note of it – This is entirely your personal choice! So, there is nothing right or wrong in asking certain questions and moving ahead in your pregnancy phase.

When is a Double Marker Test Done?

You will have an appointment fixed with your healthcare provider sometime near the end of the first trimester or very early during the second trimester. To be precise, your blood will be drawn sometime between weeks 11 and 14.

What to Expect When a Double Marker Test is Done?

Don’t worry much! This test is just a simple blood test, which is also non-fasting. Unless you are instructed otherwise, you may eat or drink normally before your appointment.

You can expect to receive your results within a period of 3 -7 days.

What are the Standard Results Followed for the Double Marker Test?

You may either receive:

  • Low
  • Moderate
  • High-risk 

Low-risk: Screen-negative or is considered normal, which means that there are fewer chances of your baby having chromosomal abnormalities.

If your result is in the normal range, then you will be recommended for further testing based on certain indicators such as family history, age, etc.

Remember that, a low-risk does not certainly mean that your baby may not have any issues. First-trimester screening can only shortlist the chances on Down Syndrome, Trisomy 13, and Trisomy 18, and not other conditions.

If the screening results are moderate or high-risk (screen positive) for abnormalities, then get in touch with a genetic counsellor to learn more.

Your healthcare provider may request more invasive tests, for further screening, such as:

  • Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT)
  • Amniocentesis
  • Chorionic villus sampling

Remember that, some of these tests can prove a bit risky to your pregnancy, but the results provided are definitive.

Since the double marker test is done during the initial stages of your pregnancy, this information can help you make important decisions about further medical treatments, tests and also helps in the overall management of your pregnancy and delivery.

This way you can know about the risks and can also help you prepare for the potential challenges that you may have to face when you have a child with special needs.

Any Risks Associated With the Double Marker Test?

Absolutely not! There are no risks associated with the double marker test. This is just a routine and noninvasive blood test. Always ensure that you are following your doctor’s advice and contact them if you are having any concerns.

Conclusion

Maybe a question is running in your mind “To test or not to give a test?”. So, if this is it, then start weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the double marker test. Then ask yourself if this information can help you to plan your pregnancy and delivery in a better way.

Be sure to discuss this test with your healthcare provider as it can help provide you with a viewpoint on your unique circumstances. So, no matter whatever you decide, always plan ahead and take a wise step.

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