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Neural Tube Defects

Neural tube defects are a group of conditions in which an opening remains in the spinal cord or brain from early in human development. Normally as the neural tube forms and closes, it helps construct the baby’s brain and skull (upper part of the neural tube), spinal cord, and back bones (lower part of the neural tube). When the neural tube does not close completely, a neural tube defect develops.

Anencephaly is a serious neural tube birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. Anencephaly happens if the upper part of the neural tube does not close all the way. This often results in a baby being born without the front part of the brain (forebrain) and the thinking and coordinating part of the brain (cerebrum). The remaining parts of the brain are often not covered by bone or skin. Read more about anencephaly.

Spina bifida is a condition that affects the spine and is usually apparent at birth. It is a type of neural tube defect that can happen anywhere along the spine if the neural tube does not close all the way. When the neural tube doesn’t close all the way, the backbone that protects the spinal cord doesn’t form and close as it should. This often results in damage to the spinal cord and nerves. Read more about Spina bifida.

In order to further refine the data being displayed, some advanced options are available at the state level. Users can filter results by:

  • Infant gender
  • Maternal age group
  • Maternal race/ethnicity

The low frequency of individual births defects means that most county level measures are suppressed due to counts of 5 or less.

Measure Description:

  • The Prevalence per 10K Live Births is the number of live-born infants diagnosed with the selected birth defect per 10,000 live births during the stated five year period.

Use the tabs to see the different data visualizations.

Measures are defined above the visualization. Additional help can be found in the Help Section.