Spina Bifida - Specific or Sporadic: a Review of the Literature.
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Introduction: A healthy pregnancy requires many components, and oftentimes fetal defects occur. Neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, result from genetic, nutritional, and environmental factors and can be diagnosed in utero. Some factors associated with an increased risk of spina bifida are low maternal folic acid levels and abuse of caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes during pregnancy. Methods: We reviewed selected literature on spina bifida with particular attention to clinical trials and systematic reviews. We identified 54 articles from the PubMed database, one article from the CDC database, and one article from YUTorah Online, describing the causes, treatments, Halachic opinions on treatments, and prevention of spina bifida. Results and Discussions: Many research studies have found that folic acid deficiency, smoking cigarettes, caffeine intake, and alcohol consumption while pregnant, result in a fetus with spina bifida. There are prenatal and postnatal surgeries to correct the symptoms of spina bifida, however each surgery comes with its own set of risks. It is because of these risks that some Halachic authorities do not allow prenatal surgeries. Conclusion: Important to a healthy pregnancy outcome, is that the mother has a wellrounded diet of foods containing folic acid and omega-3s, does not smoke, consumes minimum caffeine, and drinks no alcohol. Because each of these factors are associated with spina bifida, it is important that the mother be aware of the factors and adhere to these requirements, lest her fetus be born with the neural tube defect, spina bifida.
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