Current UK NSC recommendations > Neural tube defect

The UK NSC recommendation on Neural tube defects (spina bifida) screening in pregnancy

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme recommended
Last review completed July 2006
Next review due in n/a

Evidence to support continuation or cessation of existing screening programmes should be reviewed regularly. The process for this is currently being revised, which is why this topic does not currently have a review date. The new process will be published in due course. Each programme has an active portfolio of research, evidence and audit to support continual improvement. Find out more about neural tube defect screening, as part of the newborn blood spot screening programme in England.

Screening for neural tube defects (spina bifida) should be offered as part of the 18-20 week fetal anomaly scan.


Find general information about population health screening.

More about Neural tube defect

Neural tube defects (Spina bifida) are a developmental anomaly which occurs very early in pregnancy. The neural tube develops to form the spinal cord, brain and spine. When Spina Bifida occurs, the tube is split and one or more vertebrae (small bones of the back) fail to form properly, thus leaving a gap.

» Read more about spina bifida on NHS Choices

Screening in the UK

Compare how screening is offered across the UK.


Faculty of Public Health
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

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