An Audit of Neural Tube Defects in the Republic Of Ireland for 2012-2015.

Neural tube defects (NTD) are potentially preventable in two-thirds of cases by periconceptional maternal Folic Acid (FA) supplementation. A national audit for the years 2009-11 showed no decline in NTD rates over twenty years. The aim of this national audit was to determine trends/rates and inform revision of national FA supplementation and food fortification strategies. Of 274,732 live and stillbirths there were 121(42.0%) cases of anencephaly, 136(47.2%) cases of spina bifida and 31(10.8%) cases of encephalocoele giving a total of 288 and overall rate of 1.05/1000 compared with 1.04/1000 in 2009-11(NS). In the 184 women where the information was available, only 29.9%(n=55) reported starting FA before pregnancy. The number of cases diagnosed antenatally was 91%(n=262) and 53%(n=154) were live-born. This audit confirms that over a generation, healthcare interventions have not succeeded in decreasing the number of pregnancies in Ireland complicated by NTD, and that revised strategies need to be developed and implemented.