Pregnancy test in urine (hCG)
The human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) test is done to measure the amount of the hormone hCG in blood or urine to determine whether a woman is pregnant. HCG is produced by the placenta during pregnancy.
HCG in blood serum - quantitative
This is a blood test to detect beta-HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone normally produced during pregnancy.
Most often, this test is performed to determine if you are pregnant or not. The serum HCG level may also be high in women with certain types of ovarian tumors or men with testicular tumors.
To screen for several infectious diseases that can cause birth defects in newborns and illness in adults
TORCH is an acronym for a group of infectious diseases that can cause illness in pregnant women and may cause birth defects in their newborns. The test is a screen for the presence of any of the antibodies to these infections. Confirmation of an active infection may require more specific tests.
The following tests make up the TORCH panel
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection that can be passed from mother to baby through the placenta during pregnancy. An infection with Toxoplasma gondii can cause eye and central nervous system infections as well as brain and muscle cysts. If acquired during the pregnancy, it may result in a miscarriage or cause birth defects, though this depends on the time during the pregnancy in which the infection was acquired by the mother.
Toxoplasmosis is acquired by ingesting the parasite when handling the excrement of infected cats, drinking unpasteurized goat’s milk, and, most commonly, by eating contaminated meat.
Rubella is the virus that causes German measles. If contracted early in the pregnancy, the infant may develop heart disease, retarded growth, hearing loss, blood disorders, vision problems, or pneumonia.
Problems that may develop during childhood include central nervous system disease, immune disorders, or thyroid disease.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)is another viral infection that the mother may have acquired. More than half of all American adults have been infected with CMV at some point in their life and, in most cases, it does not cause severe illness. It may pass to the fetus during the birth process but can also infect newborns through breast milk
. Infected infants may have severe problems, such as hearing loss, mental retardation, pneumonia, hepatitis, or blood disorders.
Herpes simplex virus (HSV)is a common viral infection. The two most common infections with HSV are “cold sores” affecting the lips and genital herpes. Both of these infections can recur.
HSV is most commonly acquired through oral or genital contact. Newborns who contract the virus usually do so during travel through the birth canal of a woman who has a genital infection with HSV.
The virus may spread throughout the newborn’s body, attacking vital organs. Treatment with specific antiviral medication should begin as soon as possible in the infected newborn. Even if treated, surviving babies may have permanent damage to the central nervous system.
Also known as: Triple test, AFP Maternal, msAFP, Quad Screen, 4-marker screen
To assess the risk of carrying a fetus with abnormalities, such as Down syndrome
The msAFP screen involves three or four tests that each measure a difference substance found in the blood: AFP, hCG, unconjugated estriol, and inhibin A. Inhibin A is the newest marker to be added to this screen; it increases both the sensitivity and specificity of the test.
During development, AFP levels in fetal blood and amniotic fluid rise until about 12 weeks, and then levels gradually fall until birth. AFP is a protein produce by fetal tissue. AFP crosses the placenta and appears in the maternal blood.
hCG is a hormone produced by the placenta. Levels in maternal blood rise for the first trimester of pregnancy and then fall to less than 10% by the end of pregnancy.
Unconjugated estriol is produced by the fetus through metabolism
This production process involves the liver, adrenals, and the placenta. Some of the unconjugated estriol crosses the placenta and can be measured in the mother’s blood.
Inhibin A is a hormone produced by the placenta. Inhibin is a dimer
(has 2 parts) and is sometimes referred to as DIA or dimeric inhibin A
Levels in maternal blood decrease slightly from 14 to 17 weeks gestation and then rise again.