Spina bifida is one of the more common birth defects. It occurs when the tissue surrounding the developing spinal cord of a foetus doesn't close properly. Genetic and environmental factors can increase the chance of spina bifida, although usually the specific cause is not known. About 5000 Australians are living with spina bifida.
If you are a woman trying to conceive, you can reduce your chance of having a child with spina bifida by ensuring you are getting enough folate. You may need folate supplements from one month before conception to 3 months after to reduce your risk.
There is no cure for spina bifida. Treatment may involve surgery, but it depends on the severity of the condition.
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Last reviewed: October 2016