Elevated levels of carcinoembryonic antigen in cord plasma
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41.5% of 200 newborn infants had levels of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) in excess of 2.5 ng/ml in their cord plasma. There was no direct correlation with the maternal CEA level although the frequency of elevated CEA was significantly greater among infants born to mothers with CEA levels greater than 2.5 ng/ml. There was no preponderance of high CEA levels among infants with low birth weights and there was no influence of maternal smoking on a cord CEA level. There was a tendency toward an increased incidence of cancer in families with infants who had elevated CEA levels and a reverse trend was noted with respect to diabetes; however, these associations were not statistically significant. We were unable to define clearly the factors accounting for the persistent elevation of this oncofetal antigen at birth; however, the possible association with susceptibility to the development of neoplasia merits further study.
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