Race Adjustment Not Needed in Maternal Alpha-Fetoprotein Screening

No difference seen in maternal prenatal serum alpha-fetoprotein screening values for Black, non-Black individuals

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WEDNESDAY, March 1, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- There is no difference in maternal prenatal serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) screening values for individuals identifying as Black and non-Black, according to a study published in the March issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Nicholas R. Burns, M.D., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues conducted a single-center retrospective analysis of patients who underwent prenatal analyte screening between January 2007 and December 2020. Nomograms were created for raw maternal serum AFP values by gestational age and were compared for patients identifying as Black and non-Black. Data for analysis were available for 27,710 patients; 6 percent of these patients identified as Black.

The researchers found no significant differences between Black and non-Black patients in nomograms for raw maternal serum AFP values. No difference in maternal serum AFP values was seen between Black and non-Black individuals when adjusted for gestational age and maternal weight.

"These findings suggest that routine race-based adjustment of maternal serum AFP values for Black individuals should be discontinued. Further research to confirm these findings at other centers or large reference laboratories should be considered, as well as research to determine how the removal of race adjustment might change test performance characteristics and subsequent rates of diagnostic testing," the authors write.

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Elana Gotkine

Elana Gotkine

Medically reviewed by Mark Arredondo, M.D.

Published on March 01, 2023

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