Elevated HCG Levels - A Symptom of Molar Pregnancy

Submitted by Pregnancy and Baby Care team on August 13, 2012

A molar pregnancy also called a hydatidiform mole is an unusual pregnancy complication that has a one in a thousand chance of occurring. It is caused due to chromosomal imbalance that sets in at the time of conception. There are two types of molar pregnancies. They are partial and complete. In a partial molar pregnancy, an embryo and abnormal placental cells develop together. However, the embryo is genetically deformed as it has 23 chromosomes ...


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Partial Molar Pregnancy

...from the mother (this is the normal chromosome count) but 46 from the father. This occurs mainly due to a single ovum being fertilized by two sperm, instead of breaking up into twins, a single abnormal embryo develops. This also happens if the father’s chromosomes duplicate at fertilization. In the case of a complete molar pregnancy, an empty ovum is fertilized and the father’s chromosomes get duplicated to contribute 46 paternal chromosomes. This results in no embryo, just the formation of a deformed placenta. The abnormal placental cells, in both cases, multiply steadily and resemble a bunch of grapes. Another symptom of a molar pregnancy is elevated hcg levels. A molar pregnancy hcg levels test will help to confirm the diagnosis. Also see HCG levels during pregnancy

The hormone hCG is produced by the trophoblast cells present in the placenta, soon after conception. The abnormal placental cells multiply quickly and the hormone production is higher than in the case of a normal pregnancy. In a normal pregnancy, hCG levels rise up to 150,000 mlU/ml in blood serum and urine. However, this level may vary from woman to woman with an average level of 60,000 mlU/ml. hCG levels peak at 10 weeks from the LMP or last menstrual period and then gradually regulate at around a fifth of the peak level until the end of the term. This level also differs from individual to individual. Molar pregnancy hcg levels keep rising and have been known to reach a level of 2,000,000mlU/ml. High hCG levels are also observed in the case of multiple fetuses. Hence, it is essential to keep in mind that high hCG levels are only indicative of molar pregnancies and no diagnosis can be made only based on this reading.

The other symptoms of a molar pregnancy include a larger than normal uterus that does not match the gestational age of the fetus and no fetal heartbeat. The uterus is generally calm as a result of no fetal movement. The high molar pregnancy hcg levels cause increased nausea and vomiting. Spotting or bleeding is also characteristic of a molar pregnancy. However, a molar pregnancy can be confirmed only after intensive pelvic examination and an ultrasound.

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