The Effect of Neural Tube Defects on Healthcare

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According to the Encyclopædia Britannica (2014), a neural tube defect is “any congenital defect of the brain and spinal cord as a result of abnormal development of the neural tube.” This birth defect is “the most common congenital defect of the central nervous system, affecting the brain and/or spinal cord of 300,000 newborns worldwide each year” (Ricks et al., 2012, p. 391). The exact cause of these central nervous system defects is unknown, but there are many contributing factors that are evidenced to assist in the prevention of such a disorder. I will examine the varying types of neural tube defect, populations in which this defect is most prevalent, possible causes of the defect, and how this defect affects the healthcare system. During fetal growth, the neural tube can develop any number of abnormalities. These “malformations occur because the tube fails to close properly, because parts of it are missing, or because part of the tube is blocked” (neural tube defect, 2014). Ramírez-Altamirano et al. (2012) have stated that “the most common types of neural tube defect are anencephaly, spina bifida, and encephalocele, all of which represent 95% of the cases.” Anencephaly is the most severe form of neural tube defect. In this condition the cephalic portion of the neural tube fails to close properly, resulting in very little cerebral tissue forming. Infants born with this defect are usually stillborn or live for a very short amount of time. Spina bifida consists of “a group of malformations of the spine in which the posterior portion of the bony canal containing the spinal cord is completely or partially absent” (Frazier & Drzymkowski, 2013, p. 63). This condition typically affects the lumbar portion of the neural tube, a... ... middle of paper ...ñas, E., Harp-Iturribarria, F., Martínez-Cruz, R., Cruz, P., & … Pérez-Campos, E. (2012). The relationship of aluminum and silver to neural tube defects; a Case control. Iranian Journal of Pediatrics, 22(3), 369-374. Ricks, D. J., Rees, C. A., Osborn, K. A., Crookston, B. T., Leaver, K., Merrill, S. B., & … Ricks, J. H. (2012). Peru’s national folic acid fortification program and its effect on neural tube defects in Lima. Pan American Journal of Public Health, 32(6), 391-398. Suarez, L., Felkner, M., Brender, J., & Canfield, M. (2012). Dieting to lose weight and occurrence of neural tube defects in offspring of Mexican-American women. Maternal & Child Health Journal, 16(4), 844-849. doi:10.1007/s10995-011-0806-9 Vats, R., Sharma, R. K., & Sharma, A. A. (2012). Implications of zinc on fetal neural tube defects. Internet Journal of Medical Update, 7(2), 19-24.

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