Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Spina Bifida - Home Treatment


In the United States, laws guarantee free early treatment programs and equal access to public education for all disabled children. These laws protect a parent's right to be fully informed about educational decisions concerning his or her child. Also, the laws protect the parent's rights when he or she disagrees with any decision. Contact your state and local education departments for information about your rights to educational accommodations.

Prevention of spina bifida

To help reduce the risk of having a child who has spina bifida and other neural tube defects, you need to get plenty of folic acid. Women who are at risk (such as those who have already had a child with spina bifida) should take 4,000 mcg of folic acid a day.2 Having enough folic acid in your diet is an important part of preventing spina bifida. To be effective, it needs to be consumed before a baby is conceived. Folic acid may be obtained from vitamin supplements and by eating foods that are rich in folic acid, such as fortified breakfast cereals and breads, spinach, and oranges. Since 1998, the United States government has required that foods made from grains and sold in the U.S. be supplemented with folic acid to help reduce the risk of spina bifida.

Before you become pregnant, talk with your doctor about the risk for having a baby with spina bifida. This is especially important if you are taking medicines for epilepsy, such as valproic acid (Depakene or Depakote) or medicines for acne, such as isotretinoin (such as Amnesteem, Claravis, or Sotret). These medicines are linked with a higher rate of neural tube defects and should not be taken just before and during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

Because no amount of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy, do not drink while you are pregnant. Women who drink large amounts of alcohol during their pregnancy have an increased risk for having a child with physical and mental effects caused by alcohol exposure.

High body temperature (hyperthermia) can cause spina bifida to develop in your fetus. So avoid exposure to excessive heat, such as saunas or soaking in a very hot bath, during the first weeks of your pregnancy. A high fever during the first weeks of pregnancy can also cause hyperthermia.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 21, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

baby standing in crib
changing baby in nursery
baby acne
baby being fed

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
baby with pacifier
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow