Neural tube defect

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A neural tube defect will occur in human embryos if there is an interference with the closure of the neural tube occurs around the 28th day after fertilization. The incidence of neural tube defects is 2.6 in 1,000 worldwide.[citation needed]


Pregnant women taking medication for epilepsy have a higher chance of having a child with a neural tube defect. Research has shown that women with folic acid deficiencies also have a higher chance of having a child with a neural tube defect, but this is only one factor. Taking folic acid does not completely negate the risk of neural tube problems, but it does significantly reduce the risk.


In Canada, mandatory fortification of selected foods with folic acid has been shown to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects by 46%[1].

Women who are or could become pregnant are advised to take daily supplements of folic acid, unless their dietary intake of this nutrient is normally high.


Neural tube defects may be detected by a variety of methods, including some prenatal screening tests and medical imaging. Often, these defects are apparent at birth, but occult defects may be not diagnosed until much later in life.

Types of neural tube defects


  1. De Wals P, Tairou F, Van Allen MI; et al. (2007). "Reduction in neural-tube defects after folic acid fortification in Canada". N Engl J Med. 357 (2): 135&ndash, 142.