Neural Tube Defects (NTDs)

Neural Tube Defects (NTDs)

Neural tube defects (NTDs) are birth defects affecting the development of the spine, brain, and skull in humans. These birth defects are very serious and can range from mild to severe in their effects. NTDs occur in 1-2 out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States and globally. NTDs can cause serious physical and mental disabilities, such as spina bifida, hydrocephalus, anencephaly, and encephalocele.

The exact causes of NTDs are unknown, but there are a few known risk factors:

  • Infection: It is believed that certain infections can increase the risk of neural tube defects.
  • Genetic Factors: Mutations in certain genes can increase the risk of NTDs.
  • Drugs and Alcohol: Using certain drugs and drinking alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of NTDs.
  • Maternal Health Conditions: Women with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and autoimmunity, are at a higher risk for having a baby with an NTD.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the risk of NTDs. These include taking a vitamin supplement containing folic acid before and during pregnancy, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and avoiding drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. Additionally, genetic testing can be conducted to determine if the mother or father of the baby is a carrier of any of the genes associated with NTDs.

NTDs are serious and can have a significant impact on a person’s life. Fortunately, with early detection and proper treatment, people with NTDs can lead healthy and productive lives.