Neural Tube Defects

What are Neural Tube Defects?

Neural tube defects are serious birth defects which involve incomplete development of the brain, spinal cord and/or the protective coverings of the organs. There are three types of NTDs — anencephaly, encephalocele, and spina bifida.

Anencephaly: Babies born with this birth defect have underdeveloped brains and incomplete skulls. Most infants born with anencephaly do not survive more than a few hours after birth.

Encephalocele: A birth defect that results in a hole in the skull through which tissue protrudes. Although most babies with encephalocele do not live or are severely retarded, a few children have survived because of early
surgery to correct this defect.

Spina bifida: A birth defect of the spinal column (backbone) that is sometimes called “cleft or open spine”. Spina bifida can range from a mild defect that causes no problems to a serious condition involving muscle paralysis, loss of feeling, infection and loss of bowel and bladder control. 70-90% of children born with the more severe types of spina bifida will also have hydrocephalus, a build up of fluid in the brain. Hydrocephalus is controlled by surgically implanting a drain or “shunt” to relieve the fluid pressure on the brain.


Please fill in your information to download the full fact sheet. Fact Sheets are free, and your information helps us receive more funding for our research.

All fields are required to download the full fact sheet.

Your Name

Your Email

Your Street Address

Your City/Town and State

Your Zip

Click submit for the download link.

Comments are closed