Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

Facts About Spina Bifida

  • 95 % of Spina Bifida cases occur in families with out a previous family history of Neural Tube Birth Defects. (March of Dimes)
  • If a woman has had a previous NTD affected pregnancy, it increases her chance of having another NTD affected pregnancy by about 20 times.
  • Latinas have an increased chance of having a baby born with Spina Bifida if the mother has or develops Maternal Insulin Dependent Diabetes.
  • Certain anti-seizure medications taken before and while pregnant may increase a woman's chance of having a baby born with Spina Bifida or other Neural Tube Defect.
  • Medically diagnosed obesity is a concern for Latinas and a concern for their babies because it increases the chances of having a baby with a Neural Tube Defect.
  • High temperatures (hot tubs) or prolonged fevers increase a woman's chance of having a baby with Spina Bifida.
  • Race/ Ethnicity is a concern since Latinas have a higher incident rate of Spina bifida than non-Latinas.
  • Lower economic status tends to affect the incident rate of babies born with Spina Bifida or other NTD's.


  • Multivitamins with the B-vitamin folic acid decrease the risk of Neural Tube Birth Defects by 70 %. (www.marchof
  • Since folic acid promotes the growth of healthy cells, which reduces the risk of babies born with NTD's , women should take 400 micrograms of folic acid before they become pregnant.
  • Every Latina of child bearing age, even if not planning to become pregnant , should take folic acid daily because folate, or folic acid does not stay in the body for a very long time.
  • Women who have had a previous NTD pregnancy should increase their use of folic acid to 4000 microgram daily.


Folic acid is a water soluble B-vitamin that is found in many fruits and vegetables we eat.

Folic acid is found in:

orange juice

citrus fruits


green leafy vegetables

whole grain products

organ meats (liver, heart, brain)

*Should be consumed on a less consistent basis due to high HDL cholesterol found in these meats.

BUT, the best way to make sure you are taking enough folic acid daily, Latinas should take a multivitamin that contain the synthetic form of folic acid, because your body absorbs about 50% of the folate found in food, but about 100% of folate found in multivitamins.

Your body absorbs about 85% of folate found in fortified foods. (Spina Bifida Association of America).


Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by Erika Paulus in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2005.