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What is the alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood test?

The most abundant plasma protein found in the human fetus is alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). AFP is a protein normally made by the immature liver cells in the fetus. At birth, infants have relatively high levels of AFP in the blood, which fall to normal low adult levels by the first year of life. Also, pregnant women carrying babies with neural tube defects may have high levels of AFP in both the bloodstream and in the amniotic fluid. A neural tube defect is an abnormal fetal brain or spinal cord that is caused by folic acid deficiency during pregnancy. Alpha-fetoprotein is also produced by certain cancers and is sometimes measured as a tumor marker. The AFP tumor marker test requires a blood sample. Other names for the test include total AFP and alpha-fetoprotein-L3 percent (%).

Return to Alpha-Fetoprotein Blood Test

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