Fetal Anomaly Scan Potentially Will Replace Routine AFAFP Assays for the Detection of Neural Tube Defects

Prenat Diagn. 2007 Jan;27(1):29-33. doi: 10.1002/pd.1614.


Objectives: Introduction of the second-trimester fetal anomaly scan and the decision to offer this scan to every woman in the 18th-22nd week of pregnancy necessitates a re-evaluation of the diagnostic value of the measurement of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) concentrations in the amniotic fluid (AF) for the detection of neural tube defects (NTDs).

Methods: In this study of 6501 women who underwent amniocentesis, amniotic fluid AFP (AFAFP) concentrations were measured. The women were divided into three categories: group I, without any increased risk of fetal NTD (N = 6188); group II, with an increased risk of fetal NTD (N = 258); and group III, with a clinically diagnosed fetal NTD with known AFAFP concentrations (N = 55).

Results: In 27 women of group I (0.4%), the MoM (multiple of the median) level was > 2.5 times the median AFP concentration for the corresponding gestational age, and in two fetuses this was related to NTD. In two pregnancies of group II (0.8%), an increased AFAFP was related to NTD. In group III, 44 of the 55 (80%) samples had an increased AFAFP.

Conclusion: In the near future, it is likely that imaging will replace AFAFP assays for the detection of fetal NTDs because high quality ultrasound imaging will detect NTDs accurately.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Amniocentesis / methods
  • Amniotic Fluid / chemistry*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neural Tube Defects / diagnosis*
  • Neural Tube Defects / diagnostic imaging
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / analysis*


  • alpha-Fetoproteins