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

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.
  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (2003, July; reaffirmed 2008). Neural tube defects (ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 44). Washington, DC: Author.
  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.
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