(802) 879-1802
55 Main Street, Suite 3
Essex Junction, VT 05452

Welcome to the comprehensive medical library of Champlain Obstetrics and Gynecology. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation or medical advice given to you by a physician or other medical professional.

AFP TestsPrueba de alfafetoprote­na (AFP)

AFP Tests

Image of woman giving blood
When you're pregnant, substances from the fetus mix with your blood. Your doctor can find those substances in a blood sample taken from your arm.

An AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) test is a simple blood test. It can show whether your fetus has signs of some birth defects. This test is done between weeks 15 and 20 of pregnancy.

Your AFP Test Results

You'll get your AFP test results within 2 weeks. These results show the presence of certain fetal substances in your blood. Your results can alert your doctor to possible birth defects.

Most AFP results are negative (normal). This means the test results show no signs of the birth defects tested for. Sometimes results are positive (abnormal). Often, this is simply because:

  • Your due date is different than first thought.

  • You have twins.

Some positive results show that the fetus may have one of the following birth defects:

  • Neural tube defects (problems with the spine, such as spina bifida)

  • Abdominal wall defects (problems with the body of the fetus)

  • Genetic defects (physical or mental problems, such as Down syndrome)

While it happens rarely, AFP test results can be wrong. These are called false negatives or false positives. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider any questions you have about your results.

Understanding AFP Tests

An AFP test is only a screening test. The most it can do is point to a possible problem. If your results point to a problem, other tests will be needed to confirm the results. Keep in mind that most AFP test results are normal. Even when they're not, the results of the follow-up tests most often are.

Publication Source: American Pregnancy Association

Online Source: American Pregnancy Association

Date Last Reviewed: 2004-08-23T00:00:00-06:00

Date Last Modified: 2002-07-09T00:00:00-06:00

If you have any questions or concerns regarding any condition or treatment, please contact us. To schedule an appointment, please call 802-879-1802 or use our online Request an Appointment form.