less than 1 minute read

Spina Bifida


Diagnosis prior to birth is important in minimizing some of the clinical manifestations that result in spina bifida. A particular substance, known as alpha-fetoprotein, is present at greater-than-normal levels in the blood of mothers who are carrying a fetus with a neural tube defect. This protein can be tested during the sixteenth to eighteenth week of pregnancy by a procedure called amniocentesis, or the withdrawal of some of the fluid around the baby. Elevated levels of alpha-fetoprotein, and ultrasound examination of the fetus can detect spina bifida. Results of amniocentesis, together with the results of careful ultrasound examination, can diagnose over 90% of all neural tube defects. Parents then can decide to terminate the pregnancy, or to use this information to prepare themselves to care for a child who will have significant medical needs.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Spectroscopy to Stoma (pl. stomata)Spina Bifida - Clinical Manifestations, Complications Associated With Spina Bifida, Treatment, Prevention - Diagnosis