The MS-AFP test is a routinely offered screening test for all antenatal women because it is both efficient and cost-effective as a method of predicting the risk of neural tube defects in the baby. In addition, it also provides information on the risk of other birth defects and pregnancy complications. It thus forms part of the triple and quadruple tests which are screening tests for fetal anomalies.
Some high-risk conditions in which the MS-AFP test is ordered include:
History of babies with congenital defects
Family history of babies with congenital defects
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
The American Pregnancy Association says that all pregnant women should be offered an AFP test sometime between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy. The test may be especially recommended if you:
Have a family history of birth defects
Are 35 years or older