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Neural tube defects (NTDs) refers to a group of abnormalities resulting from abnormal development of the brain, spine and/or spinal column. During the development of an affected embryo, a structure called the neural tube does not close completely as it should, resulting in a hole somewhere along the spinal column. Specific examples of types of NTDs include spina bifida, anencephaly, and encephalocele. Symptoms vary depending on the type of NTD present but often include various forms of physical and/or mental disabilities. Many affected individuals do not survive. The exact cause of NTDs is not known but is thought to involve both genetic and nongenetic factors. Getting enough folic acid before and during pregnancy can reduce the risk of some NTDs. Treatment depends on the severity and type of defect and may include surgery.
Last updated on 05-01-20
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