Hello Everybody, I am Praveen, a neonatologist at NCRI neonatal network.Today I am going to talk about Neural Tube Defects.Neural Tube Defects or NTDs as they are called are birth defects concerning the brain and spine or spinal cord. When the fetus begins to develop, a flat sheet of thickened ectodermal cells or neural plate forms into the neural tube, which in turn develops into brain and spinal cord.When the cells close abnormally while forming the neural tube, this leads to NTDs. Neural Tube Defects can cause physical and mental disability. These occur in the first few weeks after conception can hinder the development of the baby.Neural Tube Defects can be classified as open or closed. When the neural tissue is exposed and there is leakage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which is the fluid around the brain and the spinal called, this condition is called as open neural tube defect. This usually affects the entire central nervous system. In the closed type this affects the spine and not the brain. Although the neural tissue is not exposed in this condition, the skin covering the defect may be dysplastic or abnormally developed. The common presentations of neural tube defects are, first type is called Anencephaly, in this condition, the cranial vault, which encases the brain, fails to form properly. This can lead to miscarriages, stillbirth or death shortly after birth. In the second type which is called as Spina Bifida, the part of the spinal cord may be outside the bones of the spine, hindering proper development of the vertebrae. This can lead to muscle weakness, paralysis, loss of sensation in the legs, poor bladder and bowel control as well. Sometimes, Spina Bifida can lead to fluid accumulation in the brain (hydrocephalus) which can cause brain damage. In the third condition called as Encephalocele, part of the skull fails to form, causing the brain to be outside the skull. These babies usually either die and if they do survive, they might be having physically and mentally handicapped. Neural tube defects do run in the family. So, if there is any person in the family having neural tube defect, in the family there can be another baby developing the same condition. In the same family as well if the first child as neural tube defect, there are chances that the second child also might have that. If the mother is not consuming folic acid regularly or using certain medicines which are folic acid antagonists, then it can cause abnormal foliate metabolism, this can lead to neural tube defects as well. In some mothers with diabetes which is needing insulin the neural tube defects can be seen. If the mother takes medications to control epilepsy or seizures they can impair the foliated metabolism and that can lead to neural tube defects as well. Neural Tube Defects can be prevented by taking regular folic acid. In fact, the folic acid supplementation much begin much before the conception as the brain and spinal cord starts forming as soon as the ovum is fertilized. There are rich sources of folic acid like green leafy vegetables, orange juice, lentils, dried beans, wheat bran, nuts, fortified cereals, liver, peas also could have folic acid. If neural tube defects are found post-natally. The team of neonatologists, neurosurgeons, ultrasologonist should be involved for further management.