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Health Indicator Report of Birth Defects: Prevalence of Spina Bifida (without Anencephaly) per 10,000 Live Births

Birth defects pose a significant public health problem. One in 33 babies is born with a structural birth defect in the United States. Birth defects are a leading cause of infant mortality and responsible for considerable morbidity with enormous economic and social costs. In 1992, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended that women of childbearing age increase consumption of the vitamin folic acid to reduce the number of spina bifida and anencephaly cases in the United States. By 1998, <30% of women were following this recommendation. In 2001, researchers from CDC determined that the overall birth prevalence of these two neural tube defects declined 19% after mandatory folic acid fortification.

Prevalence of Spina Bifida without Anencephaly by County 2006-2011


Spina Bifida is a neural tube defect resulting from failure of the spinal neural tube to close. This usually results in damage to the spinal cord with paralysis of the involved limbs. Includes myelomeningocele (involving both spinal cord and meninges) and meningocele (involving just the meninges). The following International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes were used to identify spina bifida without anencephaly: 741.0, 741.9 without 740.0 - 740.10. In 1987, CDC put forth a set of 6 digit codes (the sixth digit provides greater specificity for diagnosis) based on the British Pediatric Association Classification of Diseases and the ICD-9-CM. If CDC/BPA codes are present, the following were used to identify spina bifida without anencephaly: 741.000 - 741.990 without 740.000 - 740.100.

Data Sources

  • Birth Defects Prevention and Surveillance System (BDPASS), New Mexico Department of Health.
  • Birth Certificate Data, Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics (BVRHS), New Mexico Department of Health.


Prevalence of spina bifida is the number of live-born infants with spina bifida but without anencephaly per 10,000 live-born infants. (Live-born infants are infants born with any evidence of life.)


Number of live-born infants with spina bifida (without anencephaly)


Number of live-born infants

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Before folic acid fortification, approximately 4,000 pregnancies resulted in 2,500--3,000 births in the United States each year affected by anencephaly or spina bifida.( During 1996--2001 in the US, a 23% decline occurred in neural tube defects (spina bifida and anencephaly combined). Spina bifida declined 24% during this period, and anencephaly declined 21%. The US prevalence of spina bifida (without anencephaly) from 2004-2006 was 3.50 per 10,000 births. For more information, please see: These data come from 14 birth defects surveillance programs: Arkansas, Arizona, California [8-county Central Valley], Colorado, Georgia [5-county metropolitan Atlanta], Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Utah. Due to variability in the methods used by state birth defects surveillance systems and differences in populations and risk factors, state prevalence estimates may not be directly comparable with national estimates or those of other states.

Page Content Updated On 07/31/2014, Published on 07/31/2014
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Content updated: Fri, 5 Sep 2014 13:06:56 MDT