In order to study the genetic aspects of the relation between neural tube defects and sex, we selected families with at least two closely related affected members. The sex ratios of both affected and normal transmitting persons were determined in these multiple case families. Our results indicate that there is a relation between the position of the lesion in the spine and sex. Furthermore, the affected persons in one family show significant concordance for sex as shown by the analysis of families with just two affected members. To our surprise, the group of normal transmitters appears to consist of significantly more females than males. This is in contrast to similar families with non-syndromic cleft lip +/- palate, where males predominate both among affected persons and normal transmitters. Finally, affected females most often inherited the predisposition to a neural tube defect from their mother. The possible role of inherited factors is discussed.
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