Slide show: Fetal ultrasound
Image of a fetal ultrasound showing the base of baby's brain
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Here you see the base of a baby's brain, known as the cerebellum. The shape of the cerebellum — the part of the brain that controls muscle coordination and balance — is important in the detection of neural tube defects.

The neural tube forms in the first few weeks of pregnancy. The top of this tube becomes the baby's brain, and the rest becomes the spinal cord. Problems in neural tube development can lead to conditions such as spina bifida, in which a portion of the neural tube fails to develop or close properly. This results in defects in the spinal cord and the bones of the spine.

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