Neural tube defects are usually diagnosed before the infant is born, through laboratory or imaging tests.
Prenatal laboratory tests include:
Prenatal ultrasound imaging usually detects almost all types of neural tube defects.2
When an infant with a diagnosed or suspected neural tube defect is born, the health care provider will perform tests to assess its severity and complications. These tests might include X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography scan to look for spinal defects or excess fluid, and measuring the head circumference; assessing the infant’s vigor, motor, and sensory functioning; and observing the infant’s urinary stream.2
In some people who have milder spina bifida, the condition may not be diagnosed until later in childhood or in adulthood.2
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