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Neural tube defects are one of the most common types of birth defects in the United States. These “birth” injuries actually occur very early on during pregnancy, often during the first month after conception when the brain and spinal cord column are rapidly developing.

Types of Neural Tube Defects

There are several different brain and spinal cord problems that are classified as neural tube defects. Generally, neural tube defects may be categorized as open neural tube defects or closed neural tube defects. Open neural tube defects occur when the brain or spinal cord is exposed to the outside world because of the failure of bones and skin to grow over the area. Types of open neural tube defects include anencephaly and spina bifida. Neural tube defects may also be categorized as closed neural tube defects if the skin has grown over the exposed part of the brain or spinal cord.

Causes of Neural Tube Defects

Some neural tube defects are caused by genetics and others are caused by medications or other environmental factors. Some causes of neural tube defects include a mother’s:

  • Use of Antiseizure or Antiepileptic Drugs containing Valproic Acid or Depakote.
  • Folic Acid Deficiency
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Radiation Exposure

Will My Child Have a Neural Tube Defects?

Most babies are screened for neural tube defects during pregnancy. If an ultrasound shows that there is a possibility of a neural tube defect then tests of the amniotic fluid may be ordered. In many cases, parents will know definitively about a neural tube defect when a child is born. However, in less frequent cases it may take longer to detect a closed neural tube defect.

Treatment of Neural Tube Defects

Treatment of neural tube defects is dependent on the extent of an individual’s condition. In some cases, such as when a baby suffers anencephaly, there is little that can be done and the baby is unlikely to survive. In other cases, surgery and continued rehabilitation services may be an option and may allow a child to survive.

If you are the parent of a child who was born with a neural tube defect then we encourage you to leave us comment and to share your story with our community.

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One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Katie

    This isn't my comment it is an email sent to me from someone from my church. This is all the information I have.

    I'm writing you today on a very personal level and would like you to take a minute to read this and pray for my family.

    January, Jessie went in for a regular pregnancy check up. The doctor did the usual measurements weight, baby length, and heartbeat of our new addition, and proceeded to send us down to the ultrasound. We were thrilled to find out that our child was a boy and that according to all the measurements that the technician had taken, he was growing well! Then the tone in the room seemed to change when it seemed that the doctor was having a hard time reading the diameter of his skull. After the tech just became silent, we were sent back to the doctor's office with a sealed envelope to present to him.

    The pediatrician/OB opened the envelope and proceeded to inform us that our child appears to have a form of anencephaly. This disorder is causing our baby to lack the top portion of his skull, specifically, from just above the eyebrows to the back of his head and on up. This is a rare disorder and occurs apparently in less than 1 % of pregnancies in the USA with varied degrees of severity sometimes including the brain. The doctor told us that our baby will most likely pass on before he hits term, and Jessie will miscarriage, but ifand only if he makes it to term, it will be a miracle. If the baby makes it to term, and he is born, his life expectancy in the 'outside world' will be anywhere from 2 minutes to 10 days. Mortality rate for this condition is 100%.

    Heartbroken that we may lose our son, we turned to the only person that we knew that could do anything. GOD. We came broken, and sad, but He placed inside of us a new spirit. A spirit of hope, a spirit of anticipation, a spirit of glorification of what He will do!

    Jessie and I discussed names and settled on this:


    Corbett is my formal name so he's named after me

    Josiah is Hebrew for "GOD HAS HEALED"

    It is now May 17, and our child is due on Friday May 20, 2011. In this regard God has already healed Corbett enough to make it to term! In a few short days we will see our son. And we will glorify God! We don't know the form of healing that God will give to Corbett, either He will heal him physically so that he can grow up here on earth or if He will heal him all the way, and bring Corbett to heaven and be perfectly healed. Either way, God will have healed my son!

    Please stop right now and do the following:

    -Pray for healing for Corbett Josiah.

    -Pray for wisdom and strength for Jessie and I.

    -Pray that we will glorify God in all that we will do on Friday.

    -Pray for Jessie because she will have to have a cesarean section, and would like to be coherent to spend all the time she can will Corbett.

    -Finally a quick recovery for Jessie as she heals up after the surgery.

    If you took the time to read this and pray for us we thank you. You are the reason that we are making it through along with our other family and friends. Thank you for everything and supporting us along this journey.


    Cory, Jessie, and (soon to come) Corbett

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