• Users Online: 339
  • Print this page
  • Email this page
REVIEW FOR THE SHEIKH HAMDAN BIN RASHID AL MAKTOUM AWARD FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 285-292

The causation of neural tube defects – a journey of discovery and the challenge of prevention


Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

Correspondence Address:
Nicholas J Wald
Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ
UK
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.7707/hmj.v5i3.211

Rights and Permissions

For centuries the causation of neural tube defects remained unknown. Neural tube defects are serious birth defects that occur worldwide, in some places as frequently as 1 in every 200 births. About half of cases are spina bifida, and most of the remainder are anencephaly, with or without spina bifida. Anencephaly is fatal within a few days of birth and spina bifida usually results in severe physical disability. In 1991, in the MRC vitamin study, it was shown that lack of a B vitamin, folic acid, was an important cause of these defects. The study showed that folic acid supplementation could prevent about three-quarters of neural tube defects. This result led to governments recommending that women who may become pregnant take a folic acid supplement before pregnancy. It also led to over 70 countries mandating the fortification of flour with folic acid to help overcome the fact that many women overlook taking supplements before pregnancy. The preferred fortification level should be to provide an additional 0.4 mg a day of folic acid to the population and the preferred supplement dose for women who may become pregnant is 4 mg or 5 mg a day, as there is evidence that the higher dose confers additional protection. Many countries, including the UK, have failed to introduce mandatory fortification and as a result children have been born with serious birth defects that could have been prevented. This represents a governmental failure. It is like having a polio vaccine and not using it in countries in which paralytic polio occurs.


[PDF]*
Print this article     Email this article
 Next article
 Previous article
 Table of Contents

 Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Citation Manager
 Access Statistics
 Reader Comments
 Email Alert *
 Add to My List *
 * Requires registration (Free)
 

 Article Access Statistics
    Viewed172    
    Printed8    
    Emailed0    
    PDF Downloaded19    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal