Although the use of folic acid before conception decreases the chance that a fetus will have an open neural tube defect, this condition still affects 0.5-1.0/1000 pregnancies in the United States. Results of a recent survey suggest that there are gaps in obstetrician-gynecologists' knowledge of risk factors for conception, strategies for prenatal diagnosis, and prognosis for affected individuals. To address these gaps this paper reviews the epidemiology, genetics, risk factors for conception, prenatal diagnosis, and prognosis for affected individuals, presents current information, and makes suggestions for expanding obstetrician-gynecologists' knowledge of myelomeningocele.
Target audience: Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians.
Learning objectives: After completion of this article, the reader should be able to state that despite a large amount of professional and public education on the use of folic acid in prevention of open neural tube defects (ONTDs) the incidence still affects 0.5-1.0/1000 pregnancies and recall that a recent survey conducted by the ACOG shows substantial misunderstanding and misinformation on major categories of neural tube birth defects.