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.