Neural tube defects in newborns affect a number of babies every year. Spina bifida is one of the more well known neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are birth defects which affect the brain and spine. With spina bifida, the spinal column is not completely closed.
Pregnant women can help to prevent these defects by ensuring that their intake of folic acid is adequate. Women need to take in about 0.4mg of folic acid per day. This is important before and during pregnancy.
Folic acid can be taken as a supplement. However if you do not want to take supplements, you can adjust your regular diet to ensure that you are getting enough folate. Many foods are good sources of folic acid. Women should eat lots of green leafy vegetables, broccoli, mushrooms and liver.
It is important for women who are trying to conceive to get enough of this B vitamin as well. In fact, if your folic acid levels are low during a particular month, it will affect whether the egg that was due to be released for that month matures properly. When children are born with neural tube defects, they have nerve damage and lose some of their functions. There is no way to cure this.
Source: Nlm.nih.gov, ‘Neural Tube Defects”, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/neuraltubedefects.html