This test is another method of screening maternal blood to detect spinal defects and chromosone abnormalities, especially Down syndrome. This test goes beyond alpha-fetoprotein testing and consists of one blood sample taken between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy to analyze three substances: MSAFP, Human Chorionic gonadutropin (HCG) and estriol. The levels of these three substances in your blood may indicate the presence of Down syndrome.
The triple screen test is used to indicate whether your baby is at higher risk for having a neural tube defect, Down syndrome, along with other rare conditions. In other words, an abnormal test result does not necessarily mean your baby will have a birth defect. Although abnormally high levels of AFP are sure to cause concern, the great majority of pregnant women with high AFP levels have nothing wrong. There are many other causes of elevated levels of AFP, including a pregnancy which is not dated correctly (if you are actually farther along than estimated, then AFP levels will be higher than expected), if you are carrying twins, or if the initial interpretation of your test results didn’t consider your weight, race or the presence of diabetes- all of which also affect AFP levels.
It usually takes less than three days to get the results from the triple screen test, depending on the lab performing the tests. Ask your doctor when you can expect to hear the results.