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Living with Spina BifidaA Guide for Families and Professionals$
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Adrian Sandler, M.D.

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780807855478

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807867860_sandler

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Epidemiology of Spina Bifida

Epidemiology of Spina Bifida

(p.27) Chapter 3 Epidemiology of Spina Bifida
Living with Spina Bifida

Adrian Sandler

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows that spina bifida, to a very large extent, is a preventable condition. This statement may come as a surprise to some, but then in previous decades it would have been equally shocking to hear that phenylketonuria and congenital hypothyroidism were preventable. Progress in the prevention of these two diseases rested heavily on the science of epidemiology, the study of the patterns of diseases in populations. In the chapter, the author discusses the epidemiology of spina bifida and explains his somewhat controversial position regarding its preventability. After presenting the evidence that suggests a nutritional cause of spina bifida, he also speculates about other possible genetic and environmental causes, and considers approaches to the prevention of spina bifida. Prenatal screening programs and the use of such technologies as alphafetoprotein testing and ultrasound are also discussed. The chapter ends with a projection of possible prenatal medical and surgical treatments that may be on the horizon, including in utero surgery.

Keywords:   spina bifida, preventable condition, science of epidemiology, patterns of diseases, nutritional cause, prenatal screening programs

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