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An independent 40 year review of mortality in open spina bifida


The mortality in young children with spina bifida has fallen since 1963 when the Cambridge study began. Studies in older children and adults show a considerable loss at follow-up, and incomplete data on causes of death

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The Cambridge Cohort consists of 116 cases born between 1963 and 1971. The causes of death up to 2005 are recorded. Information came from hospital records and the Office of National Statistics. Further information was obtained from autopsy reports and from doctors and carers


67 (57%) of the patients have died. Most deaths in the first 20 years were caused by hydrocephalus and CSF infections. In the second 20 years deaths were more commonly cardio-respiratory and renal. Mortality was greater where the sensory level of the lesion was higher.


The overall death rate compared with other centres. Patients with a high sensory level have twice the mortality of those with a low sensory level.

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Correspondence to Gillian M Hunt.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Hunt, G.M., Oakeshott, P. An independent 40 year review of mortality in open spina bifida. Fluids Barriers CNS 2 (Suppl 1), S47 (2005).

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