pregnancy alpha fetoprotein

Frequently asked questions: Alpha-fetoprotein of pregnancy (AFP)

pregnancy alpha fetoprotein

Usually, in the second trimester of pregnancy, doctors offer to undergo screening, which includes an analysis for alpha-fetoprotein, or AFP for short. Alpha-fetoprotein is a protein produced in the baby’s body in the womb, and its analysis allows you to assess the risk of a neural tube defect and chromosomal abnormalities.

To help you understand what this test is, we have collected in one article answers to the most popular questions about the AFP test: how it is done and what information your doctor gets from the results.


What is alpha-fetoprotein?

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is a protein produced in the body. Although the protein is produced by the baby, it is found in the mother’s blood.

If, according to the results of a blood test, alpha-fetoprotein is elevated, this may indicate the risk of developing a neural tube defect, for example, spina bifida – an abnormal development of the spinal cord. Too low a concentration can be a sign of a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down syndrome.


What is an alpha-fetoprotein test?

An alpha protein test is a blood test as part of a prenatal screening that measures the level of AFP in your blood. Usually it is prescribed to expectant mothers in the second trimester of pregnancy (at 15-20 weeks).

With this analysis, the doctor can assess the child’s risk of developing a number of abnormalities.

If you are not sure if you want to take this test, consult your doctor, which is recommended in your case, in order to make an informed choice.


When to get tested for alpha-fetoprotein?

Alpha protein testing is usually done in the second trimester between weeks 16 and 18 .

Usually, a biochemical blood test in the framework of screening, in addition to AFP, includes three more indicators: the hCG hormone, inhibin A, and free estriol. This analysis is also called the quadruple test.


What is Comprehensive Screening?

To get a complete picture of your baby’s health, the doctor will look at the first trimester screening results, which included an assessment of TST (collar space), and the second trimester screening results, which included an AFP test.

This is sometimes referred to as comprehensive screening.

After evaluating the results of prenatal ultrasounds and blood tests, your doctor may try to determine if your baby is at risk of developing abnormalities. These may include: a neural tube defect such as spina bifida or chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21) and Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18).


What does the alpha-fetoprotein level indicate?

A high level of AFP can mean a risk of a neural tube defect such as spina bifida, a low level can mean a risk of a chromosomal abnormality such as Down syndrome. Your doctor will be able to assess the level of risk and comment on the results for you.


What if AFP readings are out of range?

By analyzing a number of factors, such as age, and the results of AFP, the doctor can assess the level of risk of congenital diseases in the baby.

Please note that different laboratories may use different reference values ​​to determine risk, so it is best to consult your doctor for an explanation of the results.

The analysis for alpha-fetoprotein is only an auxiliary study, on the basis of which the doctor can assess the level of risk of congenital diseases.

It should be noted that the chance of a positive outcome (that is, having a high risk) is extremely low.

If your doctor thinks there is still a risk, he or she may order additional tests, such as amniocentesis (performed in the second trimester) to determine an accurate prognosis.

Amniocentesis involves drawing a small amount of amniotic fluid. Your doctor will explain the benefits and risks of this study so you can make an informed decision.

The desire of the expectant mother to receive an assurance that everything is in order with the baby is natural. The AFP test is a source of important information for your doctor, which is necessary for an overall assessment of your baby’s health.

In rare cases, the test result will indicate the risk of illness: your doctor will explain how the results are interpreted. Additional research can be done if you wish. Your doctor will support you with recommendations tailored to your individual situation and will help you make informed decisions.

DTP for pregnant women

DTP for pregnant women: from tetanus and other diseases

DTP for pregnant women

During pregnancy, you can take care of your baby’s health and yours in many ways. One of the vaccinations your doctor may recommend is DTP, which is a vaccine against tetanus, pertussis and diphtheria. It will help protect your child from serious illness. In this article, you will learn what the DPT vaccine is, when to do it, and what its benefits are.


What is DTP?

DTP stands for adsorbed diphtheria-tetanus pertussis vaccine. This comprehensive vaccination protects you against three diseases:

  • Tetanus;
  • Diphtheria;
  • Whooping cough .

How long does the DPT vaccine last?

The vaccine should be repeated every ten years. Pregnant women are generally advised to be vaccinated at a specific time in their pregnancy so that it can also protect the newborn from pertussis.


When do you get the DPT vaccine?

During your routine doctor’s checkup in your third trimester, seventh month of pregnancy , your doctor may discuss vaccinations with you. If your doctor hasn’t suggested getting the shot, ask why.


Who needs a DPT vaccine

The tetanus, pertussis and diphtheria vaccine is recommended for adults, adolescents, healthcare professionals, and pregnant women. Anyone who is in close contact with a baby under 12 months old should also be vaccinated.


Why is the DPT vaccine done during pregnancy?

This vaccine is given to pregnant women as it protects the baby from whooping cough right after birth. After vaccination, your body will have high levels of antibodies that will be passed on to your baby, protecting him from whooping cough from birth until the first vaccination can be given. The earliest age when a baby can be vaccinated is 2 months . Read more about the infant vaccination schedule in the childhood vaccination calendar.

Is DTP vaccine safe during pregnancy?
Yes. The vaccine is made from inactive bacteria and is safe during pregnancy. According to experts, there is no risk of pregnancy complications associated with the DPT vaccine.


When to get the DTP vaccine

The vaccine can be done at any stage of pregnancy, but the best time is between the 27th and 36th weeks . It takes your body about two weeks to make antibodies, so getting vaccinated in the third trimester ensures that the antibodies are passed on to your baby before birth. If you are unable to get the DPT vaccine during pregnancy, talk with your doctor if you can get it right after birth, before leaving the hospital. It is also recommended to be vaccinated with DPT at every pregnancy, since the protective functions of the vaccine in one pregnancy do not work during another.


Do all close family members need to be vaccinated with DTP?

Yes, because the risk of contracting whooping cough from an unvaccinated person is higher for a baby. Anyone who will come into contact with an infant before he is one year old should be vaccinated with DPT vaccine in the last ten years or at least two weeks before contact with the baby.

The DPT shot will help protect you from diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. This same vaccine will protect your baby from whooping cough in the first two months of life, until he gets a separate vaccine.

Toxoplasmosis in pregnant women

Toxoplasmosis in pregnant women: symptoms and treatment

Toxoplasmosis in pregnant women

Although this is the first time you’ve heard of toxoplasmosis, it is caused by one of the most common parasites in the world. Toxoplasmosis in pregnant women is dangerous with risks to the health of the baby. Toxoplasmosis is often carried by cats, only in their body can toxoplasma complete its full development cycle. In this article, you will learn about the symptoms and treatment of toxoplasmosis during pregnancy and how to avoid getting the infection.


What is toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The most common carriers of toxoplasmosis are cats, which themselves become infected by contact with rodents, birds or other small wild animals. The infection can be transmitted to humans through, among other things, cat feces. Millions of healthy adults can be infected with this parasite, but a healthy immune system helps prevent toxoplasmosis symptoms. That is, a person infected with toxoplasmosis may never even know this. In most cases, the infection goes away on its own without any complications. However, toxoplasmosis during pregnancy can cause serious health problems in a baby after birth. If you think you may have toxoplasmosis, see your doctor as soon as possible.


Why does toxoplasmosis occur and how is it transmitted

Toxoplasmosis causes contact with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. Toxoplasmosis is most likely to occur through cat feces, raw or undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and vegetables, and soil or sand. Cats are the main vectors of infection. Most often, the parasite occurs in cats that spend time outdoors, come into contact with soil and sand, and can hunt, for example, mice or rats.

In case of primary infection with toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, the expectant mother may not have any symptoms of the disease, but in some cases flu symptoms may be observed: fever, weakness, chills, swollen cervical lymph nodes, etc. For a pregnant baby, toxoplasmosis can be fraught with serious health problems. If a woman had a toxoplasmosis infection within six months before pregnancy, the likelihood of transmitting the infection to the child remains. If a woman becomes infected while pregnant, the risk of transmitting the infection to the baby is: in the first trimester from 10 to 25%, in the second trimester up to 30%, and in the third trimester up to 90%.


Symptoms of toxoplasmosis during pregnancy

In some cases, with toxoplasmosis in pregnant women, there are no symptoms. But sometimes moms-to-be may complain of flu symptoms such as body aches, fever, fatigue, or headache. If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor about it. If a baby becomes infected while in the womb, in most cases, symptoms will not be evident at birth. But over time, toxoplasmosis can lead to vision and hearing problems, as well as developmental disabilities. Moreover, the consequences of toxoplasmosis can only appear several years after the birth of a baby or even in adolescence.


How is the diagnosis made

If you suspect toxoplasmosis in pregnant women, a blood test is done. The study reveals antibody titers and IgM / IgG immunoglobulins. They determine the duration of infection. When planning a pregnancy, it is recommended to be tested for toxoplasmosis. If the infection with toxoplasmosis was more than six months before conception, then the risk of intrauterine infection is significantly reduced.


Treatment of toxoplasmosis in pregnant women

If you have toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection. The most effective treatment is at the earliest stages of infection, during the period when the pathogen is still present in the blood. The treatment regimen will depend on the length of pregnancy at which the woman contracted toxoplasmosis. If it happened between about 16 and 18 weeks, combined antibiotic treatment may be required.

In order to determine if intrauterine infection has occurred, amniocentesis (collection of amniotic fluid) is performed. If the infection is confirmed in the first and second trimester of pregnancy (up to 16-22 weeks), due to the high risks of disability and adverse outcomes for the fetus, the pregnancy may be terminated for medical reasons. Also, signs of infection can be detected using ultrasound . When the baby is born, a blood test may be taken. If toxoplasmosis is confirmed in the baby after birth, he may be prescribed antibiotic treatment during the first year of life. Your doctor will tell you about possible treatment options for the infection.


Prevention of toxoplasmosis

To avoid infection with toxoplasmosis, you should (for cat owners and not only):

  • Avoid contact with cat litter (if, besides you, no one can take care of the pet, use gloves);
  • Do not let the cat out into the street;
  • Do not feed the cat raw or not fully cooked meat;
  • Use gloves for gardening;
  • Avoid contact with sand (for example, in outdoor sandboxes);
  • Do not eat undercooked or undercooked meat. The safe core temperature for meat is 65–75 ° C;
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly;
  • Wash hands with soap and water after contact with raw meat, fruits and vegetables;
  • Keep the kitchen clean.



When should i see a doctor?

An analysis for toxoplasmosis will not be superfluous to pass in preparation for pregnancy . Your doctor will be able to tell you more about the infection and the test.


How can a toxoplasmosis infection affect a baby in utero?

Infection with toxoplasmosis can lead to premature birth or stillbirth. Among the most common complications for a child are developmental, visual and hearing impairments.


Is toxoplasmosis treated?

It is usually impossible to completely get rid of the parasite. If you contracted toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of negative consequences for the baby.


Can breastfeeding continue with toxoplasmosis?

Yes. You can continue to breastfeed your baby without risk of infection.

Toxoplasmosis is a potentially dangerous disease, but it is determined with a simple blood test. When planning a pregnancy, it is recommended to be tested for toxoplasmosis, especially if there is a high probability that the expectant mother had contact with the pathogen. For symptoms of toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, it is extremely important to see a doctor immediately.

Acne during pregnancy

Acne during pregnancy: causes and safe treatments

Acne during pregnancy

In some cases, acne (acne) or existing skin problems may worsen during pregnancy. And although this is not the most pleasant symptom of pregnancy , there are recommendations for skin care, following which you can get rid of such rashes. Be sure to consult with your doctor about which treatment is safe for pregnant women. In this article, you will learn why acne may appear during pregnancy, how to properly care for your skin, and what treatments are best to avoid.


Why do acne appear during pregnancy

Sex hormones can be the culprit for the rash . Against the background of their action, the production of sebum increases, which leads to clogged pores and the appearance of acne. There may be more acne in early pregnancy because this is when many hormones reach their peak levels. Acne during pregnancy appears in many expectant mothers who did not have skin problems before pregnancy. And in women with problem skin, her condition may worsen during pregnancy.

Acne during pregnancy is one of the natural changes that can happen to the skin when you are expecting a baby. Other similar changes include stretch marks or itchy skin.


How to get rid of acne during pregnancy and what are the ways to prevent

Here are some simple ways to prevent pregnancy acne:

  • Wash with water and a special soap or product that does not dry out the skin. You can do this twice a day, but do not rub your face too much, as this can irritate your skin.
  • Wash your hair. If acne appears along your hairline or you have oily hair, try shampooing your hair every day.
  • Choose skincare products with a light texture. The care products you use should have a light texture – they should contain more water than oil. Choose non-greasy cosmetics, sunscreens, and hair styling products.
  • Avoid face-hair contact.
    Over-the-counter topical products containing benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid are generally safe to use during pregnancy. But before using any pharmacy products, be sure to consult with your doctor or dermatologist.


What Acne Treatments Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy

Certain acne treatments can increase your baby’s risk of birth defects and other health problems. Experts recommend that pregnant women avoid the following foods:

  • Preparations containing isotretinoin
  • Retinoids for topical use. They belong to the same group of medicines as isotretinoin and are also a form of vitamin A but are applied to the skin
  • Hormone therapy that blocks certain hormones
  • Oral tetracyclines – this antibiotic can cause damage to the hearing organs, tooth buds, and also adversely affect the development of the bones of the child

Always read the directions for use carefully and consult your doctor before taking any medication to get rid of acne during pregnancy. Do not pop or pick pimples as this can spread infection and scarring. Avoid touching your face with your hands, as this can expose your skin to grease and dirt.

Acne during pregnancy can be one of the unwanted physical manifestations that a mother-to-be may face. Skin problems are likely to upset you, but keep in mind that by following a gentle, cleansing skin care regimen and taking acne medications (as needed and as directed by your doctor), you can heal your breakouts and enjoy your future glow. mothers!