Transitioning care for adolescents with spina bifida in the US: challenges for management

Childs Nerv Syst. 2023 Nov;39(11):3123-3130. doi: 10.1007/s00381-023-05955-8. Epub 2023 Apr 26.


Open spina bifida (OSB) is a common neural tube defect. Medical and surgical care involves addressing the baseline orthopedic, urologic, and neurological dysfunction as well as the changes or declines that may occur as the patient ages. Given the complexity of this disease, coordinated, multidisciplinary care involving specialists in neurosurgery, orthopedics, urology, rehabilitation and physical medicine, pediatrics, and psychology is necessary to establish and optimize baseline function. Traditionally in the US, pediatric multispecialty spina bifida clinics have provided the patient with a coordinated medical support system. Unfortunately, this coordinated, medical home has been difficult to establish during the transition from pediatric to adult care. Medical professionals must have a strong understanding of OSB to properly manage the disease and detect and prevent associated complications. In this manuscript, we (1) describe the changing needs and challenges of people living with OSB over a lifespan, (2) delineate current practices in the transition of care for people with OSB from childhood to adulthood, and (3) provide recommendations for best practices in navigating the transition process for clinicians who provide care for those afflicted with this most complex congenital abnormality of the nervous system compatible with long term survival.

Keywords: Anencephaly; Folate fortification; Folate supplementation; Global health; Global neurosurgery; Neural tube defects, Folic acid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anencephaly* / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Folic Acid
  • Food, Fortified
  • Humans
  • Spina Bifida Cystica*
  • Spinal Dysraphism* / therapy
  • Transition to Adult Care*
  • Young Adult


  • Folic Acid