June Is Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus Awareness Month

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

June is National Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Awareness Month, providing an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about these conditions and what can be done to reduce their occurrence.

Spina bifida is a neural tube birth defect in which the spine fails to close properly. It occurs within the first four weeks after conception and affects about 80 babies born in Canada each year.

While the majority of babies born with spina bifida survive, they may require extensive medical and surgical treatments. These babies may also suffer from another condition called hydrocephalus, which interrupts the normal cerebral spinal fluid draining patterns in and around the brain and spinal cord.


Although there is no single known cause for spina bifida or hydrocephalus, proper nutrition and taking the right vitamin supplements before conception and during the first weeks of pregnancy can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

That is why all women who are in their childbearing years, whether or not they are planning a pregnancy, should take a daily multivitamin that contains 0.4 mg of folic acid. Women who become pregnant should talk to their prenatal care provider about a vitamin supplement that meets their needs during the pregnancy.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of maintaining a healthy pregnancy to give a child the best start possible. Part of our information campaign to raise awareness of a healthy pregnancy is the Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.

This guide provides information on behaviours that can negatively impact a pregnancy, such as poor nutrition, alcohol consumption, smoking and physical inactivity. It also provides information on folic acid, emotional health, prenatal nutrition and includes a 10-month pregnancy calendar.

The four-year study will provide key information needed to improve current knowledge about the prevalence, risk factors, use of health services, economic cost and current and projected impacts of these diseases over the next 20 years.