Video: Surgery on Fetus Reduces Complications of Spina Bifida

Recently, scientists in an NIH study reported that a surgical procedure to repair a common birth defect of the spine, if undertaken while a baby is still in the uterus, greatly reduces the need to divert, or shunt, fluid away from the brain, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health and four research institutions. The fetal surgical procedure also increases the chances that a child will be able to walk without crutches or other devices.

The birth defect, myelomeningocele, is the most serious form of spina bifida, a condition in which the spinal column fails to close around the spinal cord. With myelomeningocele, the spinal cord protrudes through an opening in the spine.

In a new Web video, study author Catherine Y. Spong, M.D., Chief of the Intramural Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch at the NICHD, describes the study’s findings.

Read the Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS) Interview text alternative.


The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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