What are the treatments for Neural Tube Defects?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 05, 2011

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Quick Bites

  • The disease can affect women even before they are aware of pregnancy.
  • The defects of neural tube occur usually before the infant's birth.
  • There are no specific cure for the disorder.
  • Treatments are done according to the types of the disorder.

Birth defects of the brain, spine, or the spinal cord, are collectively known as Neural tube defects and they happen to be in the first month of pregnancy.

The Neural tube defects can often happen to attack a woman even before she is aware of her pregnancy. The two most common neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly. While spina bifida is one where the spinal column of the foetus does not close completely, in anencephaly, the brain and the skull remain undeveloped. In the case of spina bifida one can experience nerve damage which will cause paralysis of the legs, and in the case of anencephaly, some babies are either stillborn or in some cases they may die. The treatment greatly depends on the type and severity of the condition, and also on the associated complications that are there. At times, the treatment needs change from time to time.

neural tube defects treatment

While the exact causes of neural tube defects are not exactly known, you should know that you increase your risk of having an infant with this disorder if you happen to be obese, you have poorly controlled diabetes, or if you take antiseuzure medicines. If you get enough folic acid, which is a type of vitamin B during or before your pregnancy, then you will be able to prevent most of these neural tube defects affecting your infant.

The defects of neural tube occur usually before the birth of the infant, and the diagnosis is done through lab or imaging tests. The bad news is that there is no cure for the disorder, and the nerve damage and loss of function which one finds at birth are permanent in nature. One can however make an attempt to try variety of treatments which could at times be helping to prevent the damages and also help with the complications.

neural tube defect


The various complications have various treatments involved, here are some examples:

Open Spina Bifida

An infant suffering from myelomeningocele could have a surgery to close the hole in the back before birth, or even within the first few days after his or her birth.


An infant suffering from spina bifida will have water on the brain which is known as hydrocephalus. In this scenario the surgeon will implant a shunt, which is basically a small hollow tube that will help to drain the fluid. This will relieve the pressure on the brain, and this treatment could prevent further complications such as blindness.

Tethered Spinal Cord

Surgery can be done in this case to separate the spinal cord from the surrounding tissue.

Those with myelomeningocele have been found to have nerve damage which can prevent the bladder from emptying completely; this condition can cause urinary tract infections and also kidney damage. Experts will insert a catheter into the bladder of the person in order to allow it to empty out completely.

You must note that there is no treatment for anencephaly or anencephaly, as these conditions prove to be fatal shortly after birth.

Read more articles on Neural Tube Defects.
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