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January 9, 1987

α-Fetoprotein Screening and the Standard of Care

Author Affiliations

University of Arizona Health Sciences Center Tucson

University of Arizona Health Sciences Center Tucson

JAMA. 1987;257(2):188. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390020054018

To the Editor.—  The article by Dr Hughey1 was of great interest to those of us who provide prenatal care in prepaid practice settings. Our university hospital—based prepaid health plan recently reviewed the issue of whether we should offer tests such as α-fetoprotein determinations to our patients. Our review of the literature suggested that we should, and we have been doing so for approximately one year. We believe it is the standard of care to do so.2-4We were surprised, therefore, to read that only 15% of the plans surveyed in Dr Hughey's report offer α-fetoprotein testing. We suspect that the low rate reported in the study is related to the time period during which the study was undertaken. Currently, the percentage is probably much higher. Unfortunately, the date of the survey was not included in the report and the article is probably an inaccurate statement of the