Neural tube defects (NTDs), most commonly spina bifida and anencephaly, can be prevented with periconceptional intake of folic acid in about 70% of cases. Recurrence of NTDs despite supplementation of high dose of folic acid further suggests that a proportion of NTD cases might be resistant to folic acid. Moreover, heterogeneity of NTDs has been suggested in animal studies, indicating that only some sub-type of NTDs should be considered sensitive to folate intake. Inositol isomers (particularly myo- and chiro-inositol) can prevent folate-resistant NTDs in the curly-tail mutant mouse, suggesting that some cases of human NTDs might benefit from inositol supplementation. In humans, lower inositol blood concentration was found in pregnant women carrying NTD fetuses, whereas a periconceptional combination therapy with folic acid associated with inositol has been linked to normal live births, despite high NTD recurrence risk. Fifteen pregnancies from 12 Caucasian women from different parts of Italy with at least one previous NTD-affected pregnancy underwent periconceptional combined myo-inositol and folic acid supplementation. Maternal serum α-feto-protein levels were found in the normal range, and normal results on ultrasound examination were found in all the pregnancies that followed. No collateral effects or intense uterine contractions were demonstrated in this pilot study in any of the pregnancies after inositol supplementation, and seventeen babies were born without any type of NTD.
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