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What're symptoms of neural tube defects?

Spina bifida is the most common type of neural tube defect. In spina bifida, the bones of the spine do not completely enclose the spinal cord, and the spinal cord may bulge out through the opening. Surgery is required when the opening in the spine is not covered by skin, leaving the spinal cord and nerves exposed. Anencephaly is a neural tube defect in which a child is born with only a partially formed brain and spinal cord. This condition is always fatal. Because of the incorrect development of the spinal cord and nerves, a number of consequences are commonly seen in spina bifida. As a rule, the nerves below the level of the defect develop in an abnormal manner and fail to function, resulting in paralysis and loss of sensation below the level of the spinal lesion. Since most defects occur in the lumbar region, the lower limbs are paralyzed and lack normal sensation. Furthermore, the bowel and bladder have inadequate nerve connections, leading to the inability to control bladder and bowel function. Sexual function is likewise impaired. Hydrocephaly, which is an abnormal accumulation of fluid within the ventricles or cavities of the brain, develops in most of these infants either before or after surgical repair of the spine defect. In anencephaly, the brain is destroyed by its exposure during intrauterine life. Most infants with anencephaly are stillborn or die within the first few days or weeks after birth.

More information on neural tube defects

What are neural tube defects? - Neural tube defects (NTDs) are common birth defects of the brain and spinal cord that include anencephaly and spina bifida (meningomyelocele).
What causes neural tube defects? - The most common causes of neural tube defects are insufficient folic acid in the mother's diet. All pregnancies are at risk for an neural tube defect.
What're symptoms of neural tube defects? - Spina bifida is the most common type of neural tube defect. Anencephaly is a neural tube defect.
How are neural tube defects diagnosed? - At birth, the diagnosis of a neural tube defect is usually obvious based on external findings. Prenatal diagnosis may be made with ultrasound examination.
What's the treatment for neural tube defects? - No treatment is available for anencephaly. Aggressive surgical and medical management has improved survival and function of infants with spina bifida.
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