The three institutions participating in the study have undertaken preliminary studies of the new technique on more than 230 patients. It remains unknown, however, whether this surgical technique is more effective than the traditional therapy to close the spinal column after birth.
Since January 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has required food manufacturers to fortify certain grain products with the vitamin folic acid, to reduce the risk of spina bifida and related conditions, known collectively as neural tube defects. Also in 1998, the Institute of Medicine recommended that all women of childbearing age receive 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. The naturally occurring form of folic acid ? folate ? occurs in beans, leafy green vegetables, and citrus fruits.
Although consuming adequate amounts of the vitamin greatly reduces the risk that a woman will conceive a child with a neural tube defect, the vitamin does not eliminate the risk completely.
The study is currently recruiting. Further information about the study is available at 1-866-ASK-MOMS and online at www.spinabifidamoms.com.
The NICHD is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the biomedical research arm of the federal government. NIH is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. NICHD publications, as well as information about the Institute, are available from the NICHD Web site, www.nichd.nih.gov, or from the NICHD Clearinghouse, 1-800-370-2943; e-mail NICHDClearinghouse@mail.nih.gov.