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Indicator Report - Birth Defects: Neural Tube Defects

Why Is This Important?

Most neural tube defects have severe consequences for the affected pregnancy or child. Many affected pregnancies are lost before birth. Babies with anencephaly usually die within days from birth. Babies with spina bifida are at much increased risk of illness, long term disability, and premature death. These children often need lifelong health and rehabilitation services to improve outcomes and reduce complications.

Since 1992, studies have shown conclusively that taking a daily supplement containing 0.4 milligrams of folic acid, a B-vitamin, before conception can decrease substantially the risk of a pregnancy being affected by a neural tube defect and increase the odds that the baby is born healthy. Promoting folic acid awareness and use of a multivitamin with folic acid can have a major impact on improving the health of babies and children in Utah (see information on folic acid at

Tracking neural tube defect occurrence is crucial in planning, carrying out, and assessing folic acid programs to reduce preventable cases. Tracking is also critical for those planning for the care of affected children.

Neural Tube Defects: Percent Distribution of Neural Tube Defect Cases by Race/Ethnicity, Utah, 1994-2008

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data table

Data Sources

Utah Birth Defect Network.

Other Views


Number of cases of neural tube defects per 10,000 births. Neural tube defects include spina bifida, anencephaly, and encephalocele.

How We Calculated the Rates

Numerator: Number of cases of neural tube defects among live births and fetal deaths among women residing in Utah.
Denominator: Number of live births and stillbirths among women residing in Utah.

Page Content Updated On 09/10/2010, Published on 09/13/2010
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Sun, 05 July 2015 8:58:48 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site:".

Content updated: Tue, 19 Nov 2013 23:09:24 MST