Spina Bifida

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Update Date 12/05/2020 . 2 mins read
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Spina bifida is a neural tube defect. This type of birth defect occurs when the spine does not develop properly, resulting in defects in the spinal cord and spinal bones.

3 types of spina bifida

−Spina bifida occulta – The mildest and most common form. This form neither cause discomfort nor require treatment. Many people with spina bifida occulta do not know they have it until they get a back X-ray for other health issues.
−Meningocele – A rare form of spina bifida. In this form, the protective membranes of the spinal cord push out through the gap in the spine. These membranes can be surgically removed with no nerve damage.
−Myelomeningocele – The most severe form of spina bifida. This defect causes the spinal canal to stay open along several vertebrae. Since the opening is wide, a lot of the membranes and nerves push out, often damaged. In some babies, you may even see an opening on the skin where the nerves protrude.

What causes spina bifida?

The exact cause of this birth defect remains unexplained. Scientists believe that genetic and environmental factors may play a role. Women who have given birth to a child with spina bifida are more likely to have another child with the defects. Besides, women with diabetes or obesity are also more likely to deliver a baby with this defect.

What are the symptoms?

Mild forms of spina bifida often do not produce any symptom. Severe spina bifida may result in spine and brain issues. Children with severe spina bifida may experience:

−Paralysis of the legs, feet, or arms
−Bladder or bowel problems (urinary incontinence and constipation)
−A build-up of fluid on the brain (usually leads to seizures, learning difficulties or vision impairments)
−Deformed feet, uneven hips and a curved spine

How is spina bifida diagnosed?

Blood tests during your prenatal checkups can help detect problems in your baby. If the results suggest that your baby may have spina bifida, you will need an amniocentesis to confirm the diagnosis. After the baby is born, your doctor may tell if your baby has spina bifida by looking at their back. To determine the severity of the defect, an imaging test is usually required.

What are the treatment options?

While children with mild forms of spina bifida do not need treatment, those with severe spina bifida need surgery to correct the defect. In some cases, surgery can be done even before birth. Children with fluid buildup in the brain will need a tube surgically put in to drain the fluid to the belly, releasing the pressure. This will prevent further damage to the brain. Therapies and other aids (a brace or a wheelchair) are also helpful.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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