Neural Tube Defects

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The goals of treatment are to prevent as many cases of neural tube defect as possible, and for those affected, to minimise symptoms and complications. Treatments for NTD must be tailored to the individual, and may require surgery, sometimes within a few days of birth.

For prevention of NTD, adequate folate/folic acid intake by mothers is essential. Folic acid can be found in dark green vegetables and some fruit and beans as well as in other foods, but a supplement to diet is recommended. Folic acid supplementation of 0.4 mg a day reduces the incidence of NTDs, but the supplementation must be started before conception and continued for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. That means all women of child bearing age should consider taking folate supplements. Women who have spina bifida, or who already have a child with spina bifida, or who are otherwise considered at an increased risk of having a baby with an NTD should take 5 mg of folic acid a dayfor several months before becoming pregnant. This higher dose is not recommended, however, for the general population. 

Tests offered during pregnancy vary from region to region.

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