Neural tube defects in children

Neural tube defects in children

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Neural tube defects are extremely serious congenital malformations. They are common among newborns and the most common in this category are spina bifida and anancephaly. Some of these neural tube defects can be easily prevented during pregnancy if all prenatal tests and tests are followed.

What are neural tube defects?

Neural tube defects are serious congenital malformations and are caused by incomplete neural tube development that includes the brain and spinal cord. Neural tube defects are some of the most common congenital malformations.

These defects appear at birth due to the fact that the neural tube does not completely close in the first month of embryonic development.

What is the cause of neural tube defects?

In most cases, the cause of these defects is not detected in the newborn.

But experts say that there are a number of environmental and genetic factors that would cause these defects to occur. However, one can talk about some risk factors rather than the actual cause:

- exposure to certain types of medicines such as valproic acid or carbamazepine;

- the lack of folic acid during pregnancy was associated with the appearance of these neural tube defects in the fetus;

- relatives or family members who have suffered such birth defects - there is only a slightly increased risk;

- the chronic diseases of the pregnant woman could have such influences on the baby.

Common types of neural tube defects

These defects are categorized according to the way the defect is: closed or open, ie whether or not it is covered by a skin layer.

The most common types of neural tube defects are:

Spina bifida

Spina bifida is a malformation in which a vertebral arch is incomplete. There are several types of this disease:

- occult spina bifida (the malformation is covered by teguments and fascias);

- spina bifida meningocel (dura mater and spinal arachnoid herniation through vertebral defect);

- spina bifida myelomeningocel (central spinal canal is exposed to the outside).


Anencephaly affects the development of the brain and scalp and is often characterized by the absence of bones and the minimal development of the large brain (responsible for thinking, movement and senses). It is often manifested by externalizing part of the brain to open the skull (because part of the cranial vault is missing).

In most cases anencephaly can be diagnosed in the baby during pregnancy by tests such as:

- ultrasound scan;

- blood test;

- amniocentesis.

What are the effects of neural tube defects on children?

When babies are born with a neural tube defect, the effects depend on how damaged the area and surrounding tissues and structures are.

In cases of spina bifida, a timely treatment can be successful and can allow the child to grow and develop with a satisfying life.

In more complicated cases, such as anencephaly, very few newborns survive more than a few days, because the brain is very little developed, exposed and extremely damaged.

Children who survive a neural tube defect can experience many problems throughout their lives, regarding development:

- lack of concentration;

- lack of coordination in movements;

- difficulty in reading;

- difficulty in solving problems;

- deformed composition;

- rigid joints;

- muscle weakness;

- paralysis (more of the lower limbs);

- allergies.

Treatment of neural defects in children

The treatment for such defects is designed according to the symptoms presented by the child and involves a whole team of necessary specialists. Is about:

- physiotherapist;

- dietitian;

- logoped;

- social workers;

- occupational therapy services.

Neural tube defects cannot be completely healed, but the treatment is mainly based on controlling the symptoms and improving them and helping the child to grow and develop as normal as possible.

Tags Spina bifida Congenital fat deformities New born malformations