, Volume 25, Issue 7, pp 801-806
Date: 27 Mar 2009

The changing incidence of myelomeningocele and its impact on pediatric neurosurgery: a review from the Children’s Memorial Hospital

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Worldwide, the incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs) varies from 0.17 to 6.39 per 1,000 live births. The declining prevalence of myelomeningocele, the most common NTD, is secondary to several factors including folic acid fortification, prenatal diagnosis with termination of affected fetuses, and unknown factors.

Impact of changes

Of those born with myelomeningocele, survival during infancy and preschool years has improved over the last 25 years (Bowman et al., Pediatr Neurosurg 34:114–120, 4). Fewer newborns today require shunt placement, which will hopefully improve the long-term mortality associated with this disease (Chakraborty et al., J Neurosurg Pediatr 1(5):361–365, 13, unpublished data). Of a cohort born in 1975–1979 and treated at a single US institution, 74% have survived into young adulthood.

Clinical implications

One of the greatest challenges facing these young adults is the transitioning of their medical care into an adult medical community.