The quad screen (sometimes referred to as the quadruple test, AFP4, or multiple markers) is a blood test that can tell you whether your baby is at an increased risk for certain problems. The conditions it screens for are Down syndrome and trisomy 18, which are chromosomal abnormalities, as well as neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. The quad screen is done in the second trimester, usually between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. Ideally, the test should be performed in conjunction with first-trimester screening tests. This combination is known as integrated or sequential screening. Ideally, the quad screen is done between weeks 15 and 18 of pregnancy — the second trimester. However, the pregnancy screening tests can be done up to week 20 by the gynecologist. The quad screen is used to evaluate whether your pregnancy has an increased chance of being affected with certain chromosomal conditions, such as Down syndrome. The alpha-fetoprotein part of the test can help evaluate the chance for neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, and abdominal wall defects, such as omphalocele. The test predicts the likelihood of a certain problem occurring. It does not diagnose the problem. The quad marker screen determines if a woman is at higher or lower risk of carrying a baby with a birth defect. The test should be done by an experienced gynecologist in sterile conditions.
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