70% of cases of spina bifida are preventable by folic-acid supplementation

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

A seminar in this week’s issue of THE LANCET discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatments relating to spina bifida, and reinforces an important public-health message for women about to become pregnant: 70% of cases of spina bifida are preventable by folic-acid supplementation around the time of conception and during early pregnancy.

Spina bifida results from failure of fusion of the neural tube (the embryonic form of the brain and spinal cord), and is one of the most common malformations of human structure. The causes of this disorder are varied, including chromosome abnormalities and gene disorders. The cause is not known in most cases.

Laura Mitchell (The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, USA) and colleagues highlight how up to 70% of spina bifida cases can be prevented by maternal folic acid supplementation around the time of conception. The mechanism underlying this protective effect is unknown, state the authors, but it is likely to include genes that regulate folate transport and metabolism.

The authors also outline how individuals with spina bifida need both surgical and medical management. Although surgical closure of the malformation is generally done in the neonatal period, a randomised clinical trial to assess in utero closure of spina bifida has been initiated in the USA. Medical management is a lifelong necessity for individuals with spina bifida, and should be provided by a multidisciplinary team.

Dr Mitchell concludes: “Spina bifida is the only birth defect for which there have been tremendous successes in both treatment and prevention. Continuing advances in our understanding of the human genome are providing new opportunities to understand the causes of this disorder, and offer the prospect of developing improved strategies for the prevention of spina bifida. Moreover, in utero treatment, although unproven at this time, might improve quality of life for those individuals born with spina bifida.”



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Pregnancy speeds up biological aging in women, study suggests