Spina Bifida

By: Sara Olsen

Spina Bifida is a birth defect in which a developing baby's spinal cord fails to develop properly. There are four different kinds of Spina Bifida (Occulta, Closed Neural Tube Defects, Meningocele, and Myelomeningocele.

Occulta is a group of conditions affecting the spinal column. SBO is the most common form of Spina Bifida. It affects 10 to 20 percent of healthy people have it. Normally it's safe and people only find out they have it through an x-ray. SBO usually doesn't cause nervous system problems.

Closed Neural Tube does consist of a diverse group of defects in which the spinal cord is marked by malformations of fat, bone, or meninges. It is common to show no symptoms, but you could also experience unitary and/or bowel disfunction.

The third type of Spina Bifida is Meningocele, which spinal fluid and meninges protrude through an abnormal vertebral opening.

Myelomeningocele, the fourth and most severe form occurs when the spinal cord/neural elements are exposed through an opening in the spine. This may cause the person to be unable to walk and they may experience bladder and bowel dysfunction.

What causes Spina Bifida?

To this day we are still unsure of what causes Spina Bifida.

What are some signs and symptoms of Spina Bifida?

The signs and symptoms of Spina Bifida vary from person to person, depending on their lever of involvement. Closed Neural Tube will sometimes have a bump or mark near the spinal cord.

Meningocele and Myelomeningocele generally involve a fluid-filled sac--visible on the back--protruding from the spinal canal. In Meningocele the sac may be covered with a thin layer of skin, however in Myelomeningcele their is not a thin layer of skin covering the sac.

What are the complications of Spina Bifida?

Complications of Spina Bifida can range from minor physical issues with little functional impairment to severe physical and mental disabilities. It is important to note, that people with Spina Bifida are of normal intelligence. Spina Bifida's impact is determined by the size and location of the malformation and whether or not it is covered.

How is Spina Bifida treated?

There is no cure for Spina Bifida. The nerve tissue that is damaged cannot be repaired, nor can function be restored to the damaged nerves. Treatment depends on the type and severity of the disorder. Generally, children with the mildest form need no treatment, however those who suffer with a more severe form may require surgery as they grow.

Can Spina Bifida be prevented?

Mothers that take folic acid, also called folate is an important vitamin to take for developing a healthy fetus.



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