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Northwestern program aims at revealing genetic causes of spina bifida

child with spina bifida. However, genetic factors that predispose to spina bifida have still not been identified," Nye said.

"Identifying these risk factors will give prospective parents the power to predict their likelihood of having a child with this devastating condition," he said.

Spina bifida occurs during fetal development and results from improper closure of the neural tube, the embryonic structure from which the brain and spinal cord are formed. In the severe forms of spina bifida, part of the spinal cord is left uncovered by the skin and bone or actually protrudes from the spinal column. More severe forms of neural tube defect are often fatal for the developing fetus or newborn.

Children with spina bifida usually have limited or absent bladder and bowel functions and frequently have paralyzed legs. Fortunately, the lethal complications of spina bifida, such as infection and hydrocephalus or build-up of pressured fluid in the brain, can be treated with surgery early in a childs life.


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Contact: Elizabeth Crown
e-crown@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
22-Oct-2000


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