Can Spina Bifida be prevented?
The biggest breakthrough in prevention of Spina Bifida took place in the 1980s. A clinical trial found that the probability of having a child with Spina Bifida can be reduced by up to 70% if women take folic acid (a B vitamin) before and during the first months of pregnancy. This led to the following recommendations:
- All women planning a pregnancy should eat a diet rich in folate (which is present in green leafy vegetables and fruits).
- All women planning a pregnancy should take 0.4 mg folic acid daily from before conception until at least the 12th week of pregnancy.
- Women who have a particularly high risk of Spina Bifida should take a larger dose of folic acid: 5 mg daily. This applies to women with a previous pregnancy affected by a ‘Neural Tube Defect’.