Mothers face a number of challenges before and after having their babies. Most of these conditions can be missed if the clinics lack the right equipment to rightly diagnose them. Screenings include:
- Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) Screening
This is a very important test that must be undertaken. It measures the level of alpha-fetoprotein in mothers’ blood. This protein is produced by the fetal liver and is present in the amniotic fluid then passes to mother’s blood via the placenta. Elisa assays carried out at the prenatal clinics accurately give information about the quantity of AFP present. The blood test is also referred to as Maternal Serum AFP, MSAFP. Abnormal levels of AFP signal Down Syndrome, fetal abnormalities, spina bifida or even twin pregnancies.
Following these tests, subsequent ultrasounds and scanning will confirm the exact status of the pregnancy.
- Human Chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) screening
Abnormalities in fetal chromosomes can be detected early in the pregnancy through an Elisa assay. Screening for pregnancy-associated plasma protein is also important in detecting chromosomal abnormalities.
- HIV screening
The World Health Organization, CDC and all other health departments are continually looking for ways to curb the transmission of HIV-AIDS. Curbing maternal transmission is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of the virus. Mothers are advised on how to keep their babies safe and uninfected after birth.
HIV Elisa kits have been designed and through running this simple test, a mother’s HIV status can be known. The Elisa assay detects the presence or absence of HIV antibodies.
- Neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia
This condition is caused by maternal antibodies creating an immune response against fetal platelets. Enzyme-linked immunoassays detect this increase in maternal antibodies to prevent fetal death. If not detected in time, the full term infants will suffer from intracranial hemorrhage and subsequent death.
Using an Elisa kit, hospitals are able to detect the presence of antibodies raised against the parasites, saving the mother’s life as well as the fetus’.
Pregnant mothers should be screened for syphilis whether they present symptoms or not. This is a very asymptomatic disease and can affect the mental health of the mother. This will eventually affect the fetus.
- Pernicious anemia
Homocysteine and methylmalonic acid (MMA) levels are evaluated to diagnose this blood condition. The condition is associated with nerve damage, and can be fatal if not caught in time. Bone marrow and blood count tests are used to give primary diagnosis where enzyme-linked immunoassays are also conducted for certainty of the condition and treatment procedures.
- Lyme disease
This disease is caused by ticks; B. burgdorferi. Elisa assays detect antibodies built up against this species of ticks. The western blot can also test the disease but enzyme-linked immunoassays are more accurate even after three subsequent tests.
In conclusion, the health of mothers is very important and should be monitored closely during pregnancy and after birth to ensure that their next pregnancy will be without any avoidable complications. There are many tests that can detect diseases but the best is one that can quantify the amount of antibodies raised in an antigen-antibody reaction.
German Stewart is a Laboratory analyst with years of experience in Elisa assay procedures. He is world renowned because of the contributions he has made to the medical field in collaboration with the Centre for Disease Control. Visit the Medical Journal website for more of his work.