This study has been performed in an attempt to find marker protein molecules in amniotic fluid or maternal serum which would indicate fetuses with certain abnormalities. Amniotic fluid from normal pregnancies and those which lead to Down's syndrome, anencephaly, and intrauterine fetal death at different stages of pregnancy and delivery was subjected to quantitative and qualitative determination of protein constituents. The values of total protein, 19 protein components reactive to antihuman serum antisera, and α-fetoprotein in amniotic fluid as well as α-fetoprotein in maternal serum are shown for various stages of gestation. Among these, γM, γA, γG, and α-fetoprotein in amniotic fluid were assumed to be useful for the antenatal diagnosis of anencephaly and intrauterine fetal death. It was further demonstrated that α-fetoprotein in maternal serum shows a highly significant increase in these abnormalities, offering the possibility of antenatal diagnosis of other fetal distress through the monitoring of α-fetoprotein levels in maternal serum.
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