About Spina Bifida:
Spina Bifida is a congenital disorder that comes under the category of neural tube defects which is characterized by underdevelopment of the spinal cord and the spine. A neural tube defect occurs when the neural tube fails to close or does not close properly.(1)
The neural tube is a structure which is formed in the first trimester of the pregnancy in the fetus which closes within a month of conceiving. This neural tube if closed properly ultimately leads to the development of brain, spinal cord, and the tissues that enclose these vital structures.
Spina Bifida may be mild to severe in nature depending on the location and type of the defect. The root cause of the development of Spina Bifida is not known but there are certain risk factors like obesity, diabetes, folate deficiency that have been shown to increase the likelihood of a female delivering a child with Spina Bifida. Let us know whether or not there is any inheritance pattern or genetic defect causing spina bifida.
Is Spina Bifida Genetic Or Hereditary?
The answer to this question is, some researchers are of the opinion that Spina Bifida may be caused by certain genetic and environmental factors. Changes in the genes of the child as well as the mother at the time of pregnancy increase the chances of the child having Spina Bifida.(2) The gene that is believed to influence the chances of a child having Spina Bifida is the MTHFR gene. This gene functions by processing the vitamin folate and a deficiency of folate results in the development of Spina Bifida. Thus a defect in the MTHFR gene may be connected to the development of Spina Bifida.
Genes related to the development of neural tube may also be involved in influencing the chances of whether a child will develop Spina Bifida, although there is no concrete evidence to prove that these genes play a constructive role in the development of this condition.
Coming to inheritance(2), there are very few cases in which a child with Spina Bifida has a first degree relative with the same condition and there has been no clear pattern of inheritance in such cases.
Thus, it is safe to say that Spina Bifida is not an inherited condition, although first degree relatives of an individual with this condition are at increased risk of having a baby with Spina Bifida.