PREVIOUS QUESTION:

 

NEXT QUESTION:

 

What tests can check for spina bifida?

ANSWER

Spina bifida is a relatively common birth defect in the U.S. It prevents the backbone that protects your baby’s spine from fully forming during pregnancy. Three tests can check for spina bifida and other birth defects while the baby is still in the womb:

Blood test: A sample of the mother’s blood is tested to see if it has a certain protein the baby makes called AFP. If the level of AFP is very high, it could mean the baby has spina bifida or another neural tube defect.

Ultrasound: High-frequency sound waves bounce off tissues in your body to make black-and-white pictures of the baby on a computer monitor. If your baby has spina bifida, you may see an open spine or a sac poking out of the spine.

Amniocentesis: If the blood test shows a high level of AFP but the ultrasound looks normal, your doctor may recommend amniocentesis. This is when your doctor uses a needle to take a small amount of fluid from the amniotic sac around the baby. A high level of AFP means the skin around the baby's sac is missing and AFP has leaked into the amniotic sac.

From: What Is Spina Bifida? WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Spina Bifida Association: "What is Spina Bifida?"

National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke: "Spina Bifida Fact Sheet."

Mayo Clinic: "Spina Bifida."

CDC: "Spina Bifida."

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on June 25, 2019

SOURCES:

Spina Bifida Association: "What is Spina Bifida?"

National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke: "Spina Bifida Fact Sheet."

Mayo Clinic: "Spina Bifida."

CDC: "Spina Bifida."

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on June 25, 2019

NEXT QUESTION:

How is spina bifida diagnosed in babies?

WAS THIS ANSWER HELPFUL

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.