Slide show: Fetal ultrasound
Image of a fetal ultrasound slide showing the base of baby's brain
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Here you see the base of a baby's brain. 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 the spinal cord might bulge out through an opening in the spine.

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