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Maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein screening for neural tube defects and other disorders using an ultramicro-ELISA

Collaborative study in Cuba and in the German Democratic Republic

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In Cuba and in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) a total of 24,412 pregnant women were tested for maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) at the 16th to 20th week of gestation. An inexpensive and partly automated ultramicroliter enzyme immunoassay (ELISA) with final volumes of 10μl was used to analyze simultaneously 50 samples. The intraassay coefficient of variation (CV) of 5–8% and day/day CVs of 6–10.5% were obtained with a test frequency of 320 assays/day. A cut-off level of twice the median value (MoM) was chosen. An amniocentesis was done in a total of 0.5% (in the GDR) and 0.7% (in Cuba) of the screened women. The prevalence of open neural tube defects (ONTD) was calculated from the present study and was 1.43‰ in Cuba and 1.34‰ in the GDR. Through MSAFP screening 88.2% ONTD were detected. There was no therapeutic abortion of a normal fetus. The approximate cost for this program was about 2.36 marks-GDR per patient screened, or about 2,048 marks per ONTD detected.

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Correspondence to Hannelore Körner.

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Körner, H., Rodriguez, L., Fernandez Yero, J.L. et al. Maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein screening for neural tube defects and other disorders using an ultramicro-ELISA. Hum Genet 73, 60–63 (1986).

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  • Internal Medicine
  • Pregnant Woman
  • Metabolic Disease
  • Final Volume
  • Enzyme Immunoassay