What is Spina Bifida?
Spina Bifida is the number one permanently disabling birth defect in the U.S. Spina Bifida is a neural tube defect and occurs when the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) does not properly form during the early stages of pregnancy (within the first 28 days) - often before most women even know they are pregnant.
What are the statistics?
There are approximately 70,000 people with Spina Bifida currently living in the U.S. About 8 babies are born every day with Spina Bifida in the United States.
What causes Spina Bifida?
There is no known direct cause of Spina Bifida. Experts believe that genetics and a person’s environment might interact to cause Spina Bifida. It’s possible that genetics make someone susceptible to having Spina Bifida, but that something in the environment triggers the Spina Bifida to develop. Medical research has confirmed that there is a link between a woman’s folate level before pregnancy and the occurrence of Spina Bifida and other neural tube defects.
Who is at risk for having a baby with Spina Bifida?
Any woman who is capable of becoming pregnant can have a baby with Spina Bifida. People with a parent or sibling with Spina Bifida are 5 to 10 times more likely to have Spina Bifida than the general population, it’s impossible to know which women will have babies with Spina Bifida and which one will not - 95% of people with Spina Bifida have no family history.
Can Spina Bifida be prevented?
It is impossible to prevent a baby from having a birth defect, it’s only possible to reduce the risk. Studies have shown that the risk can be reduced when women take folic before and during the first three months of pregnancy. That is why it is recommended that all women who could possibly become pregnant should take 400 mcg of folic acid every day. Please be advised that folic acid does not stop all cases of Spina Bifida - there is still a chance that some babies will have it even when women take the right amount daily.