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Neural tube defects

Neural tube is the medical term for the developing brain and spinal cord. A neural tube defect occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy when parts of the brain or spinal cord fail to develop properly, or their covering fails to develop so the brain or spinal cord becomes damaged in utero. This condition occurs in about 1:750 babies.

It can usually be detected during the pregnancy with high-resolution ultrasound. The affect on the baby depends on the location and extent of the defect. When it affects the skull, it is called anencephaly and it is usually fatal. When it affects the spinal cord it can result in paraplegia, abnormal function of bladder or bowel and hydrocephalus (water on the brain).

The risk of neural tube defects can be reduced by taking Folic Acid (see Folic acid)

Nuchal translucency

Nuchal translucency is the lucent part of the back of the fetal neck. The thickness of the nuchal translucency is known to be increased in fetuses affected by Down syndrome, other chromosomal abnormalities, heart defects and other genetic syndromes. (see nuchal translucency screening on this website)

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