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Dual Marker Test

Interpreting Results
Dual Marker Test

Overview of Dual Marker Test

What is Dual Marker Test?

Dual marker test is also known as Double Marker Test. This test measures the levels of Beta Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (beta-hCG) and Pregnancy Associated Plasma Protein (PAPP-A) in blood. It is generally advised for women who are above the age of 35 years as they fall in risk of delivering a baby with Down’s syndrome. Apart from that, it is advised for younger women as well. This test helps in screening the fetus for any abnormalities before birth. It is done from 8 weeks to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Why is Dual Marker Test done?

  • To detect Down’s syndrome

  • To detect Trisomy 18

  • Ladies having a family history of any of these syndromes

What does Dual Marker Test Measure?

This test measures the levels of beta hCG and PAPP-A in blood with the ultrasound test. Beta hCG is a hormone which is produced by the cells in the developing placenta during pregnancy. The levels of beta hCG increases in early pregnancy. The role of beta hCG in early pregnancy is to maintain the function of corpus luteum (the hormone-secreting structure that develops in an ovary). During the first three weeks production of beta hCG increases reaching to peak levels at 10th week (from the last menstrual cycle). After that, the levels of beta hCG start to fall to negligible within a few weeks after delivery.

PAPP-A is secreted by the placenta and its levels increase with duration of pregnancy. Variety of tissues express PAPP-A at very lower levels. Plaques which are not stable in coronary arteries also express PAPP-A in high levels.

Dual marker test is done along with Nuchal Translucency test to confirm the diagnosis of any genetic abnormality. 

Nuchal Translucency (NT) is a measurement of the fluid beneath the skin along the back of the baby's neck. NT is measured by ultrasonography.

Preparation for Dual Marker Test

  • Please keep the hard copy of your latest pregnancy ultrasound report ready at the time of your test.

Sample Type for Dual Marker Test

The sample type collected for Dual Marker Test is: Blood

Interpreting Dual Marker Test results


All women should be screened for dual marker test in pregnancy for any pre-birth abnormalities irrespective of age. The ideal duration of this test is between 10-13 weeks of pregnancy. But it can be done between 9-13.6 weeks of pregnancy.

Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Dual Marker Test

Frequently Asked Questions about Dual Marker Test

Q. How is this test performed?
This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle is used to withdraw blood sample from a blood vessel in your arm generally from the inner side of the elbow area. The doctor, nurse or the phlebotomist will tie an elastic band around your arm which will help the blood vessels to swell with blood. This makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are clearly visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You may feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected is then sent to the laboratory.
Q. Is there any risk associated with this test?
There is no risk associated with the test. However, since this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, in very rare cases, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma formation (blood collection under the skin), bruising or infection at the site of needle prick.
Q. Is Dual marker test especially for pregnant ladies above the age of 35 years?
No, it is advised to younger women as well. It helps in screening any birth abnormalities in the fetus before birth. As after the age of 35 years, the risk of Down’s syndrome increases especially in those women who have a family history of any birth defects or the women who have given birth to a child with any birth defects previously or there is a history of insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes.
Q. What is the importance of ultrasound in Dual marker test?
The doctor usually advises ultrasound before advising the Dual marker test. Based on the results of ultrasound test, Dual marker test is advised.
Q. What are the advantages of Dual marker test?
Dual Marker test helps you to go for other diagnostic tests if it comes positive. If the test is done earlier in pregnancy and it comes positive, early decisions can be taken.
Q. What is Down's syndrome?
It is a genetic disorder in which extra genetic material from chromosome 21 is transferred to the fetus. This transfer affects the development of the fetus leading to abnormal development physically and mentally. The affected baby will have a small head and short neck, obliquely positioned eyes looking in the upward direction, large tongue coming out of the mouth, flat face, wide hands with short fingers and lack of muscle tone.
Q. What is Trisomy 18?
It is also known as Edwards Syndrome which is caused by the development of extra chromosome 18 which disturbs the normal pattern of development in the baby even before its birth. The effects caused by Trisomy 18 are very complicated as compared to Down's syndrome. The effects are so severe that it can cause stillbirth (death at the time of birth) of the child.
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