Genetics Northern California

Glossary

TermDescription
Alpha-fetoproteinAlpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is a protein produced mainly in the developing baby's liver and released into the amniotic fluid. A small amount crosses the placenta and can be measured in a pregnant woman's blood towards the end of the first trimester. Levels rise at a steady rate throughout the second trimester. In most babies affected with open spina bifida, anencephaly, or an abdominal wall defect, more AFP is in the amniotic fluid and that leads to a higher amount of AFP in the maternal blood. In Down syndrome, trisomy 18, and SLOS, AFP levels may be lower than average.  
Screening

A mass examination of the population to detect the probability of a particular disease (ie. Ex-Afp to look for Down Syndrome and openings in the brain and spine).