Causes of Spina Bifida
Low Levels of Folic Acid
Folic acid has been shown to be important to the healthy development of a fetus. Low levels of folic acid in the mother's diet during the early parts of pregnancy increases the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects.
The risk of spina bifida increases with diabetes, especially when the mother's blood sugar is elevated early in the pregnancy. Controlling blood sugar levels during pregnancy can help reduce this risk.
Neural Tube Defect in a Previous Child
Mothers who have had one child with a neural tube defect have a 1 in 40 chance of having another baby with the same defect. That risk increases to 1 in 20 if two previous children have been affected by the condition. A woman who was born with a neural tube defect, or has a close relative with one, has a greater chance of giving birth to a child with spina bifida.
Certain drugs, such as those prescribed for seizures, increase the risk of spina bifida. This may be because they interfere with the body's ability to use folic acid.