Neural tube defects (NTDs) are a group of serious congenital malformations, including anencephaly, encephalocoele and spina bifida (SB) which are associated with failure of closure of the neural tube during early embryonic development. They affect approximately one in 1000 births globally, and constitute an important challenge in terms of mortality, morbidity, social and financial costs. Studies indicate that approximately two thirds, but not all, cases of NTDs are preventable1. The burden of disease associated with NTDs is higher in Ireland than in other countries. Ireland has the highest fertility rate in the European Union (EU), and more than twice as many babies with spina bifida are live-born in Ireland compared with the rest of the EU. It is estimated that there are about 500 patients with SB in Ireland.
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