Buwembo W, Obore AP, Ziraba S, Kange M, Munabi IG, Okori H, Namusoke F, Mwaka E, Luboga SA.
Correspondence to
Erisa Mwaka: Department of Anatomy, School of Biomedical Sciences, Makerere University College of health Sciences. P.O.Box & 7072, Kampala Uganda, Telephone: +256752575050 Email: erisamwaka@gmail.com

Spina bifida is one of the commonest neural tube defects. Though food fortification with folic acid has been reported to reduce spina bifida, the incidence of spina bifida and the benefits of taking folic acid have not been documented in many developing countries including Uganda. This study set out to determine the incidence of spina bifida and related skeletal neural tube defects in the skeletons currently housed in the Galloway skeletal collection at Makererere University College of Health Sciences, Anatomy department with the aim of using the data to extrapolate on the usefulness of food fortification with folic acid. This was a descriptive cross sectional study on 226 skeletons in the Galloway osteological collection examined by an experienced anatomist for features of neural tube defects that ranged from non-fusion of the spinal arches to total absence of vertebral structures. Of the skeletons examined 43/226 (19%) had spina bifida. Of these 38/43 (88%) were male, suggesting a higher incidence of spina bifida in males than in the females. Overall 55.2% of the skeletons were within the age range of 20-55 years. This historical study highlights possible differences in the maternal micro nutrient status in the early months of pregnancy for various African populations as shown by the differences in the prevalence rates of minor spina bifida defects in the Galloway osteological collection. There is need for baseline studies on folic acid levels during pregnancy and the various local dietary sources of folic acid for Africans.
Key words: Neural tube defects, osteology
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