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How many people are affected by or at risk for spina bifida?

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About 1,500 infants are born with spina bifida each year in the United States.1

Anyone can give birth to an infant with spina bifida. However, parents who already have had a child with spina bifida or another neural tube defect have a 4% increased risk of having a second child with spina bifida. Parents of two children with spina bifida have about a 10% chance of having another child with this condition. When one parent has spina bifida, there is about a 4% chance that his or her child also will have it.2

Women who are obese, have poorly controlled diabetes, or take certain antiseizure medications are at greater risk of having a child with spina bifida.2,3


  1. Canfield, M. A., Honein, M. A., Yuskiv, N., Xing, J., Mai, C. T., Collins, J. S., et al. (2006). National estimated and race/ethnic-specific variation of selected birth defects in the United States, 1999–2001. Birth Defects Research. Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 76(11), 747–756. [top]
  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (2003, July; reaffirmed 2008). Neural tube defects (ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 44). Washington, DC: Author. [top]
  3. Fichter, M. A., Dornseifer, U., Henke, J., Schneider, K. T., Kovacs, L., Biemer, E., et al. (2008). Fetal spina bifida repair–current trends and prospects of intrauterine neurosurgery. Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy, 23(4), 271–286. [top]

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