Worried about your baby’s health? This mystery molecule will help you keep your worries at bay.
Beta-hCG- The pregnancy hormone!
Beta- Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (B-hCG) is the pregnancy hormone. Initially, it is produced by the placenta, during the second week of pregnancy. β-hCG fortifies the corpus luteum, which helps support the endometrial lining and thereby maintain pregnancy. The primary function of this hormone is to maintain the vascular supply of the placenta (a sac that nourishes the egg after it is fertilized) during the complete period of pregnancy.
This hormone also accounts for numerous other crucial placental, uterine and fetal functions in pregnancy. In the early stage of pregnancy, the level of HCG is elevated enough to produce a positive pregnancy test in the blood and also in urine. Therefore, a pregnancy test detects the levels of hCG in the blood or urine to confirm pregnancy status.
Why should one get tested?
- This test is done to confirm a pregnancy.
- To help detect an ectopic pregnancy- when implantation takes place outside the uterus it is known as ectopic pregnancy, where the level of hCG is slowly elevated in the blood. Therefore, testing may help in the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy.
- To monitor a pregnancy that may be at high risk of failing.
- To screen pregnant women to monitor the developing baby for fetal abnormalities and/or chromosomal abnormalities.
- Abnormal levels of B-hCG may indicate chromosomal defect such as Down syndrome in the developing fetus.
- Increased levels are indicative of miscalculation in pregnancy dating.
- Low levels of b-hCG can indicate that an individual has had or will have a miscarriage.
- Raised levels can as well indicate a blighted ovum also known as anembryonic pregnancy, a condition in which the fertilized egg is attached to the uterine wall but, the embryo fails to develop.
- High levels are seen in ectopic pregnancy
- Elevated levels of this hormone may manifest in molar pregnancy, a placental abnormality caused when the egg and sperm join together during the fertilization process that leads to growth of abnormal tissues within the uterus.
The test for hormone beta hCG is done for qualitative and quantitative analysis by the use of advanced and sophisticated automated technologies like Chemi Luminescent Immuno Assay (C.L.I.A).