Do You Know Relation Between Neural Tube Defects and Pregnancy

Vaibhav Saxena

, Health A2Z

Neural tube defects are one of the most common kinds of disorder that affect the most children worldwide. According to the stats, on an average of over 3,00,000 babies are annually affected due to this defect. This disorder is primarily considered as a chronic and impactful birth defect. Birth defects are present in the baby’s body during the time of delivery which can cause intellectual, physical or developmental disorder for a temporary or permanent duration.


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What is Neural Tube Defects?


Neural tube defects are an aggregate of birth defects that cause an opening at the spinal or brain parts of the body of the baby. This opening remains from the early period of the development of the child.


This opening is termed the neural tube due to its structure as a tube. This tube at its initial stage is found tiny, a flat ribbon that turns into a tube by the end of the first month of pregnancy. This condition can arouse fatal conditions that involve death as well.


This condition is also abbreviated as NTDs, classified as embryological considerations with the presence or absence of exposed tissue as opened or closed. As discussed earlier, the NTDs are a group of birth defects and on basis of their characteristics, these defects are categorized into many types that are mentioned below.




What are the Types of Neural Tube Defects?


The NTDs affects people in two forms, the first is open NTDs and the other is closed NTDs. The former is the most common kind of NTDs which affects the most children world which occurs when the brain or spinal cord are exposed at birth through a defect in the skull or vertebrates. The examples of open NTDs are anencephaly, encephaloceles, hydranencephaly, iniencephaly, schizencephaly, and spina bifida.


The closed NTDS is the rarest group of birth defects which occurs at the spinal area where the skin covers the opening part. The examples of closed NTDs are lipomyelomeningocele, lipomeningocele, and tethered cord. Following are the in-depth discussions of the NTDs kinds.


1. Anencephaly:

This neural tube defect occurs when the head end of the neural tube fails to close, usually during the 23rd to the 26th day of pregnancy, resulting in an absence of a major portion of the brain and skull. Infants born with this condition are born without the main part of the forebrain.


2. Encephaloceles:

In encephaloceles, the protrusions of the brain through the skull that are sac-like and covered with a membrane occurs. They can be a groove down the middle of the upper part of the skull, between the forehead and nose, or the back of the skull.


3. Hydranencephaly:

Cerebral hemispheres are missing and the missing portion is filled with sacs of cerebrospinal fluid in the condition of Hydranencephaly.


4. Iniencephaly:

This is a rare kind of condition which results in extreme bending of the head to the spine. The neck of the baby is found absent and the skin of the face connects directly to the chest and the scalp connects to the upper back. The infant falls in the risk of death after a minimal time of birth.


5. Spina bifida:

Spina bifida is kind of NTDs which are classified into two further categories that are spina bifida cystica and spina bifida occulta.


a) Spina bifida cystica

This condition comprises of involvement of meningocele and myelomeningocele. Here the former is not much severe but the latter can create a severe condition.


b) Spina bifida occulta

In this condition, the meninges do not herniate through the opening in the spinal canal. The risk of recurrence is 5–10 times more as compared to the general population in those who have a first-degree relative.


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What are the Causes of Neural Tube Defects?


The major causes of NTDs are yet to discover but there are few factors that are found responsible for arousing the condition. The essential factors which cause NTDs are enlisted below.


1. Folate deficiency

Folate or generally called vitamin B9 is considered a responsible factor to promote the growth of the embryo. Whereas, the deficiency of this element can lead to disastrous circumstances of NTDs.


2. Environment Factor

Cigarette smoke and air or/and water pollution are kinds of things that we encounter on regular basis. These environmental factors can potentially lead to birth defects.


3. Genetics

Parents can also transmit the condition to their offspring as a lot many things are transmitted from parents to their children like hair color, skin color, body structure and lot more.




How to Prevent Neural Tube Defects?


The prevention methods revolve around the intake of folic acid. It is recommended to the childbearing mothers and to be pregnant women to consume an adequate amount of multivitamins on regular basis.

A woman can consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily and whereas the dose can be increased in case of deficiency. Also, the potential mother or childbearing woman must avoid smoking and stay in an environment with bad air or water.





Neural tube defects can arouse severe tensions and troubles for children (babies) and their parents as well. These group of birth defects is highly fatal and chronic which can leave a lifetime defect. It is ideal to follow the prevention measures and maintain a good nutrition-rich diet for the development of the embryo.


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