Neural Tube Defect: What It Is and How to Prevent It

Learn what it is, when it's detected and how to help prevent it.
Save article
ByAshley S. Roman, MD
OB-GYN
Updated
Apr 2017
pregnant woman hands on belly indoors
Photo: Getty Images

A neural tube defect is when baby’s spine or skull isn’t formed properly, or when the spinal cord or part of the brain develops outside the body. Spina bifida is one type of neural tube defect.

Every pregnancy is screened for neural tube defects, usually around the 20th week, either with a blood test or an ultrasound, so the defects are likely to be identified then.

Taking folic acid in the weeks before and after conception is the only thing that’s been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. It is commonly recommended to take a supplement of about 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.

Related Video
Save article

Congenital Heart Defects

Jennifer L.W. Fink
Registered Nurse

5 Ways to Make Baby Smarter Before Birth

Celia Shatzman
Contributing Writer

This Common Pregnancy Condition Could Up Baby’s Risk of Autism or ADHD

Ashley Edwards Walker
Contributing Writer
Published
09/23/2019

Mom-to-Be’s Hilarious ‘Demon’ Baby Sonogram Goes Viral

Laurie Ulster
Contributing Writer
Published
09/13/2019

This Is How Mom’s and Baby’s Cells Communicate During Pregnancy

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
08/22/2019

Study: Industrial Chemicals Pass From Mother to Fetus Throughout Pregnancy

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
01/31/2019

Why Your Baby Is Really Kicking in the Womb, According to New Research

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
11/30/2018

How Big Is Baby: Fruit & Veggie Edition

Darcy Strobel
Senior Visuals Editor

Research Shows Why Babies Need to Move in the Womb

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
03/12/2018

This Is How Hard Your Baby Is Kicking, According to Science

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
01/25/2018
Article removed.