Spina bifida is a type of neural tube defect that occurs when a baby’s spine and spinal cord do not develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.
The neural tube is the structure that eventually develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord and it starts to form in early pregnancy and closes about four weeks after conception.
In spina bifida, part of the neural tube doesn’t develop or close properly, leading to defects in the spinal cord and bones of the spine (vertebrae).
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Although what causes spina bifida is not known, doctors conclude a number of risk factors can result to a baby developing the condition, including:
Folic acid is important for pregnancy, as it can help to prevent neural tube defects, including spina bifida.
Take a 400 microgram folic acid tablet every day while you are trying to get pregnant and until you are 12 weeks pregnant. If you didn’t take folic acid before you conceived, you should start as soon as you find out that you are pregnant.
Eat foods that contain folate (the natural form of folic acid), such as green leafy vegetables and brown rice.
Some breakfast cereals and some fat spreads such as margarine have folic acid added to them. It is difficult to get the amount of folate recommended for pregnancy from food alone, which is why it is important to take a folic acid supplement.
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It’s best to get vitamins and minerals from the food you eat, but when you are pregnant you will need to take some supplements as well, to make sure you get everything you need. It’s recommended that you take:
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