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Data and Statistics

In the United States

  • Each year, about 1,500 babies are born with spina bifida. [Read summary]
  • Hispanic women have the highest rate of having a child affected by spina bifida compared with Non-Hispanic White and Non-Hispanic Black women:
    • Hispanic: 4.17 per 10,000
    • Non-Hispanic Black or African-American: 2.64 per10,000
    • Non-Hispanic White: 3.22 per 10,000
  • [Read summary]
  • In 1992, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily to reduce the risk of having a pregnancy affected by neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida. [Read article] Subsequently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated adding folic acid to all enriched cereal grain products by January 1998. [Read article]
    • The prevalence rate of spina bifida declined 31% from the prefortification (1995–1996) rate of 5.04 per 10,000 to the post-fortification (1998–2006) rate of 3.49 per 10,000. [Fact sheet]
  • An estimated 1,000 more babies have been born without an NTD each year since fortification began. [Read article]

Chart showing prevalence of spina bifida from 1995 to 2006. See long description for detailed explanation of this chartD

Quality of Life

[Read summary]

  • Many adolescents and young adults with spina bifida report a high level of satisfaction with their health-related quality of life, are entering and succeeding at college life, and are participating in sports and other recreational activities.
  • Some adolescents and young adults are concerned about their future because of secondary health conditions they experience frequently.
  • While many parents of adolescents and young adults with spina bifida are satisfied with their children’s overall quality of life, they say their children face challenges in continence and getting around.

Highlighted Articles

Key Findings: Sociodemographic Attributes and Spina Bifida Outcomes
Sociodemographic attributes and spina bifida outcomes
(Published: April 8, 2015)

Key Findings of Health Risk Behaviors among Young Adults with Spina Bifida in Arkansas.
Health Risk Behaviors Among Young Adults with Spina Bifida
(Published: January 3, 2013)

Key Findings: Hospital Use, Associated Costs, and Payer Status for Infants Born with Spina Bifida
About 18% of babies with spina bifida had more than three hospital stays initiated in their first year of life. The presence of other birth defects seemed to influence the length of stay in the hospital and hospital costs.
(Published: November 15, 2012)

Test Your Knowledge of Spina Bifida
If you have spina bifida, it’s important to get the facts so that you can make the best possible health care choices.
(Published: October 5, 2015)

National Spina Bifida Patient Registry
(Published: October 20, 2014)

Living with a Birth Defect
Read about one family's experience with a birth defect, spina bifida.
(Published: January 15, 2013)

Spina Bifida: Nancy’s Story
Read about a nurse and mother whose son has spina bifida.
(Published: October 15, 2012)

Learn more about the National Spina Bifida Program
SCD affects an estimated 90,000 to 100,000 Americans. Learn the symptoms and how to stay healthy.
(Published: October 17, 2011)

Spina Bifida Prevalence
Pediatrics, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has published a new CDC study: “Prevalence of Spina Bifida Among Children and Adolescents in 10 Regions in the United States.”
(Published: July 13, 2010)