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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The association of abnormal alpha-fetoprotein and adverse pregnancy outcome: does increased fetal surveillance affect pregnancy outcome?

OBJECTIVE: Our purpose was to investigate whether adverse outcomes associated with elevated maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein levels may be prevented by intensive antenatal monitoring. STUDY DESIGN: Records of patients with elevated maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein values of > or =2.0 multiples of the median between 1995 and 1999 were reviewed. Pregnancy histories were analyzed to determine whether intensive antenatal monitoring (twice-weekly nonstress tests and determinations of the amniotic fluid index) would have detected the adverse outcomes when routine obstetric care would have missed them. Women with elevations explained by multiple gestations, structural abnormalities, or a fetal death were excluded. RESULTS: The study enrolled 136 patients. Twenty-three patients were excluded because of multiple gestations, structural or chromosomal abnormalities, or fetal death or for lack of available follow-up. Seventy-eight patients had no perinatal complications, but 12 of these patients underwent heightened surveillance. One of these patients was subjected to an induction of labor. Thirty-five pregnancies had complications (21 with preterm labor, 7 with pregnancy-induced hypertension, 6 with growth restriction or oligohydramnios, 1 with abruptio placentae, and 1 with vasa previa). Of these 35 pregnancies, 22 were followed up with routine obstetric care and 13 with heightened surveillance. Heightened surveillance did not achieve earlier or improved detection in this group. These results suggest that routine pregnancy management is an adequate strategy for providing care to pregnant patients with unexplained elevated maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein levels. Adverse outcomes were detected with routine pregnancy management or were undetectable even with intensive management. CONCLUSION: Increased risks of pregnancy-induced hypertension, preterm delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, intrauterine fetal death, oligohydramnios, and abruptio placentae are associated with elevated maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein levels. However, in our study, routine pregnancy management was an acceptable method of detecting these adverse outcomes when they were detectable.[1]


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