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Understanding perspectives on neural tube defect management: insights from Jordanian parents.

INTRODUCTION: Neural tube defects (NTDs) represent a spectrum of heterogeneous birth anomalies characterized by the incomplete closure of the neural tube. In Jordan, NTDs are estimated to occur in approximately one out of every 1000 live births. Timely identification of NTDs during the 18-22 weeks of gestation period offers parents various management options, including intrauterine NTD repair and termination of pregnancy (TOP). This study aims to assess and compare parental knowledge and perceptions of these management modalities between parents of affected children and those with healthy offspring.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This retrospective case-control study was conducted at Jordan University Hospital (JUH) using telephone-administered questionnaires. Categorical variables were summarized using counts and percentages, while continuous variables were analyzed using mean and standard deviation. The association between exposure variables and outcomes was explored using binary logistic regression. Data analysis was performed using SPSS for Windows version 26 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL).

RESULTS: The study sample comprised 143 participants, with 49.7% being parents of children with NTDs. The majority of NTD cases were associated with unplanned pregnancies, lack of folic acid supplementation, and postnatal diagnosis. Concerning parental knowledge of TOP in Jordan, 86% believed it to be legally permissible in certain situations. However, there was no statistically significant difference between cases and controls regarding attitudes toward TOP. While the majority of parents with NTD-affected children (88.7%) expressed a willingness to consider intrauterine surgery, this percentage decreased significantly (to 77.6%) after receiving detailed information about the procedure's risks and benefits ( p  = .013).

CONCLUSIONS: This study represents the first case-control investigational study in Jordan focusing on parental perspectives regarding TOP versus intrauterine repair of myelomeningocele following a diagnosis of an NTD-affected fetus. Based on our findings, we urge the implementation of a national and international surveillance program for NTDs, assessing the disease burden, facilitating resource allocation toward prevention strategies, and promoting early diagnosis initiatives either by using newly suggested diagnostic biomarkers or early Antenatal ultrasonography.

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