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Childs Nerv Syst. 2003 Aug;19(7-8):596-9. Epub 2003 Aug 6.

Current status of prenatal management of fetal spina bifida in the world: worldwide cooperative survey on the medico-ethical issue.

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Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, Jikei University, 3-25-8 Nishi Shinbashi, Minato-ku, 105-6451 Tokyo, Japan.



The management of congenital CNS anomalies differs among countries. This paper reports on a worldwide survey of individual experience and regimens for treating spina bifida (SB) in different patient populations and cultural backgrounds. Ten representative members of the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery (ISPN) in individual countries registered their experience, prenatal management, and care system for SB. The information collected contained the following major items: intrauterine diagnosis, prophylaxis, and legal termination in prenatal management.


The prenatal diagnosis of SB is extensively performed throughout the world, but the marker alpha-fetoprotein is not widely accepted in Asia, nor is the prophylactic administration of folic acid, which is not part of the routine care in Asia. Morphological analyses by neuroimaging, especially using an advanced technique of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are well developed in Asian countries, e.g., Japan and Korea. The prenatal management of SB fetuses differed depending upon the region, i.e., more support for aggressive and intensive treatment in Asia than in Europe and North America. The regional and racial difference in management of and care for spina bifida fetuses will be discussed further based on the data analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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