Who Does Spina Bifida Affect?

In the United States, spina bifida is the most common defect of the neural tube (a structure in the developing embryo that eventually becomes the baby’s spinal cord and brain). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1,500 babies are born with spina bifida in the U.S. each year. That means that about one out of every 2,500 babies born in the U.S. each year will be affected with the neural tube defect.

The rates of spina bifida are higher among Hispanics and whites of European descent than among African-Americans, Asians and Ashkenazi Jews. Gender appears to play a role; more female babies are born with spina bifida than males.

The good news is that since 1996, there has been a 24 percent drop in the number of babies born with spina bifida. That was the year that the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) first mandated that U.S. food manufacturers add the nutrient folic acid to most enriched breads, flours, corn meals, pastas, rice and other grain products. Increased intake of folic acid prior to and in the first weeks of pregnancy can reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects in newborns.

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Resources:

Spina Bifida Association
Spina Bifida Statistics