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Unfortunately, neural tube defects are not a rare occurrence in medicine and patients need to be aware of interventions that they can try to do to make sure that they have a healthy pregnancy. As you may already be able to guess, this is a problem linked to the amount of pre-natal care that a mother can receive before her child is born. Poorer countries tend to have a higher incidence of birth defects. Even European countries and the United States have high rates of occurrence considering the amount of money they can spend on healthcare and rates can be as high as nine9 live births / 10,000 patients. [1]

Spina bifida is one of the possible complications that could occur during pregnancy. Spina bifida is a condition where the bones of the spinal cord do not form properly and can be mild or severe. Thankfully, the mild form is much more common and can be corrected surgically. Spina bifida is the most common type of birth defect that will be seen in the population and it is rated as the highest and most complex form of birth defect that is still compatible with life. Factors that influence your chance of having spina bifida include the environment and genetic factors that could be family linked. Daily intake of folic acid has been attributed with a 70 percent risk reduction of spina bifida so proper management of the pregnancy is the most feasible way to ensure that your baby is born with the highest health. [2]

Another possible birth defect that afflicts a number of patients would be anencephaly. This is a condition where the head of the fetus does not adequately develop and it is a condition that is not compatible with life. Women who are suffering from diabetes mellitus or are using anti-psychotic medications are most prone to delivering a baby with this condition. It is essential for patients suffering from these diseases to monitor their sugar levels and try to find some alternative medication to use in the event they are taking anti-psychotics that may not have the same dangerous risks on the health of the baby. [3]  Talk to your doctor to make sure the medications you are taking are safe. 

The last possible neural defect worth mentioning would be encephalocele, which is a condition where the neural tube fails to close properly during pregnancy similar to what was observed in patients with spinal bifida. Unlike anencephaly, the prognosis for survival is much more favorable, and the estimation is that approximately 55 percent of patients can survive after they are born with encephalocele. Surgical therapy is the only way to try to correct the deficit, and if patients are treated early and do not have a significant herniation, they are more likely to survive. Survival data shows that patients that do have their surgical correction are free of any mental handicaps 48 percent of the time while only 16 percent are considered to be mentally retarded. [4] 

Environmental factors are believed to be the biggest risk factor for this type of defect so there is little a family can do to reduce their chances other than routine pre-natal care. 

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