OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate gestational age-dependent effects of racial origin, smoking status and mode of conception on maternal serum levels of free β-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG) and pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) at 7-14 weeks' gestation. METHODS: This was an analysis of data from prospective first-trimester combined screening for aneuploidies in singleton pregnancies, with β-hCG and PAPP-A measured at 7 + 1 to 14 + 3 weeks' gestation. We included 27,908 pregnancies from three centers in the U.K. and 125,461 pregnancies from 22 centers in Denmark, all with known normal fetal karyotype or resulting in the birth of a phenotypically normal neonate. Multiple regression modelling of log10 -transformed marker concentrations was used to produce log10 multiple of the median (MoM) values for free β-hCG and PAPP-A and to examine pregnancy characteristics that have significant effects on marker concentrations. RESULTS: Serum free β-hCG and PAPP-A concentrations were significantly affected by gestational age, maternal weight, racial origin, parity, smoking and mode of conception. There were significant gestational age-dependent effects attributed to Afro-Caribbean race, smoking and conception through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) on PAPP-A and free β-hCG levels. In women of Afro-Caribbean race there was a weekly increase in PAPP-A of 5.3% and in free β-hCG of 1.8%. In smokers there was a weekly decrease in PAPP-A of 2.4% and in free β-hCG of 1.6%. In cases of IVF conceptions there was a weekly increase in PAPP-A of 4.5% and in free β-hCG of 4.6%. CONCLUSIONS: Serum free β-hCG and PAPP-A concentrations at 7-14 weeks' gestation are affected by several pregnancy characteristics. The effects of Afro-Caribbean race, smoking and IVF conception change with gestational age.
Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology : the Official Journal of the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2013, Vol 41, Issue 1, p. 33-9