Both healthcare professionals and the general public can use pregnancy tests. All tests require the measurement of human chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG), in the urine. Although other pregnancy-specific materials may be used as tests for pregnancy, none of them can match the convenience and sensitivity offered by HCG immunoassay. Ultrasound measurement is not as sensitive as HCG measurement. This test uses monoclonal antibodies against the beta-subunit HCG. These antibodies virtually eliminate cross-reactions with pituitary-luteinizing hormone (LH). It is this feature that allows for high sensitivity. It is important to note that the ‘beta subunit’ antibody reacts both with intact HCG (which is the main component of pregnancy serum) and with fragments from the beta-subunit, which are the major form found in the urine. HCG is found in small quantities in both the urine and blood of pregnant women. The implanting blastocyst’s HCG first appears in the maternal blood approximately 6-8 days after fertilization. It then rapidly rises to a peak level at 7-10 week. Most modern pregnancy test kits have sensitivity 25 units per Liter. Urine may show positive results within 3-4 days of implantation. By 7 days, 98% will be positive. The woman cannot be pregnant if she has a negative pregnancy test within one week of her missed period. False-positive results caused by interfering materials are very unlikely with the current generation of test kits. The current generation of pregnancy tests has a high level of specificity and sensitivity that is hard to match with other tests.
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