Spina Bifida Data

A birth defect is a problem that happens while the baby is developing in the mother's body.  Most birth defects happen during the first three months of pregnancy.  A birth defect may affect how the body looks, works, or both.

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Spina bifida is one type of birth defect.  Review the FAQs below for more information about spina bifida (without anencephaly).

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What is spina bifida?

Spina bifida (pronounced spine-ah bi-fah-dah) is a condition that affects the spine and is usually visible at birth. It is a type of neural tube defect. The backbone that protects the spinal cord does not form and close as it should, which can result in damage to the spinal cord and nerves.

There are different types of spina bifida that can cause physical and mental disabilities that range from mild to severe.  Learn more on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Spina Bifida Basics page.

What causes spina bifida?

We do not know all of the causes of spina bifida. The role of factors, such as genes and the environment, need to be studied further.

While we don’t know the exact causes, there are things women can do before and during pregnancy that can help reduce the risk of having a baby with spina bifida, such as taking folic acid.  Learn more on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Spina Bifida Basics page.

Is spina bifida preventable?

Visit the CDC's Spina Bifida Basics page to learn more about preventing spina bifida.

Where can I learn more about spina bifida?

Last Revised: November 12, 2018