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Maternal plasma or serum alpha-feto-protein (A.F.P.) concentrations were measured once between 8 and 22 weeks of gestation in each of sixty-two pregnancies which resulted in an infant with a neural-tube defect. Between 13 and 22 weeks of pregnancy twenty-two of the forty-one cases tested (54%) had A.F.P. values greater than three times the median value for unaffected pregnancies (which is equivalent to the 97th percentile of normal), and many of these values were very high indeed. However, before the 13th week of pregnancy only one of the twenty-one cases (5%) had an A.F.P. value more than three times the median for unaffected pregnancies, and this value was not very high. This indicates that in antenatal screening for anencephaly or spina bifida, A.F.P. should be measured in blood taken from the mother during the second trimester.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





195 - 196


Anencephaly, Female, Fetal Proteins, Gestational Age, Humans, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Trimester, First, Pregnancy Trimester, Second, Prenatal Diagnosis, Spinal Dysraphism, alpha-Fetoproteins