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Neural tube defects at Siriraj Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand--10 years review (1990-1999).

OBJECTIVES: Neural tube defects (NTDs), (including anencephaly, meningomyelocele and encephalocele), are among the most common birth defects, with high associated mortality and morbidity. NTDs occur in 1-5 per 1,000 births, with marked geographic and ethnic variations. However, there are few data concerning the incidence, associated anomalies, treatment and outcome of NTDs in Thailand. The objective of this study is to analyze data on NTD cases from 1990-1999 at Siriraj Hospital, a hospital with 18,000-20,000 deliveries annually.

MATERIAL AND METHOD: A retrospective chart review of patients with NTDs who were born at or referred to Siriraj Hospital 1990-1999 was performed.

RESULTS: During the 10 year period we examined, there were 115 patients with NTDs treated in the Department of Pediatrics as well as in other Departments at Siriraj Hospital. The incidence of NTD is 0.67 per 1,000 births. The sex distribution was equal among NTD cases, 55 (48%) females, 59 (51%) males and one (1%) unidentified sex. Isolated NTDs accounted for 105 (91%) cases, and 10 (8.7%) had at least 1 other structural anomaly such as cleft lip/palate, imperforate anus, amniotic band sequence, or ambiguous genitalia. Among all NTD cases, there were 55 (48%) with myelomeningocele, 45 (39%) with anencephaly, and 14 (12%) with encephalocele. Seventeen (15%) cases died; among these, 7 (41% of deaths) died in utero, 8 (47% of deaths) died in the early neonatal period, and 2 (12%) died after 1 year of age. Regarding treatment, 95 surgical corrections, 47 excisions and repairs, 45 excisions and VP shunts, 1 laminectomy and 2 club feet corrections were performed.

CONCLUSIONS: In this hospital-based study of 115 patients with NTD, we found an incidence of 0.67/1000 births; however, as this was a hospital-based study, the community incidence is likely higher. Most cases were isolated NTDs, and almost half of NTDs were meningomyelocele. There was a high rate of mortality. Further studies are warranted to better elucidate the health burden from NTDs in Thailand. Public health interventions aimed at increasing the periconceptional consumption of folic acid should be implemented or enhanced to reduce the incidence of NTDs in Thailand.

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