Neural tube defects (NTDs) are congenital structural abnormalities of the central nervous system and vertebral column. Neural tube defects may occur as an isolated malformation, in combination with other malformations, as part of a genetic syndrome, or as a result of teratogenic exposure (1). Neural tube defects are the second-most-common major congenital anomaly (2) after cardiac malformations, and their prevalence varies by geographic region, race, and environmental factors (3). Outcomes and disabilities depend on level and extent of lesion; for instance, anencephaly is incompatible with life but most infants with spina bifida will survive after surgical repair (4). Importantly, and in contrast to many other congenital abnormalities, primary prevention of NTDs is possible with folic acid. In addition, prenatal screening and diagnosis are widely available, and fetal surgery has improved outcomes for some newborns. The purpose of this document is to provide information about NTDs and make management recommendations for the pregnancy complicated by a fetal NTD.
For a comprehensive overview of neural tube defects, the full-text version of this Practice Bulletin is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/AOG.0000000000002412.
Committee on Practice Bulletins—Obstetrics. This Practice Bulletin was developed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Practice Bulletins—Obstetrics in collaboration with Mari Charisse Trinidad, MD, and Myra Wick, MD.
This information is designed as an educational resource to aid clinicians in providing obstetric and gynecologic care, and use of this information is voluntary. This information should not be considered as inclusive of all proper treatments or methods of care or as a statement of the standard of care. It is not intended to substitute for the independent professional judgment of the treating clinician. Variations in practice may be warranted when, in the reasonable judgment of the treating clinician, such course of action is indicated by the condition of the patient, limitations of available resources, or advances in knowledge or technology. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reviews its publications regularly; however, its publications may not reflect the most recent evidence. Any updates to this document can be found on www.acog.org or by calling the ACOG Resource Center.
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Official Citation: Neural tube defects. Practice Bulletin No. 187. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2017;130:e279–90.
Received October 18, 2017
Accepted October 18, 2017