Spina Bifida

Kaeleigh Smithson Pd. 5

Spina Bifida, literally meaning "split spine", is a birth defect where the infant's spinal column does not close off all the way. There are four sub-groups, Occult Spinal Dysraphism (OSD), Spina Bifida Occulta (SBO), Meningocele, Myelomeningocele(Meningomyelocele), or Spina Bifida Cystica. The cause of Spina bifida is unclear, but doctors and scientists believe that it is a genetic disorder, but could also be caused by the environmental effects. Sometimes, when the baby is premature, they develop it as well. When a child is suspected to have spina bifida, the doctor will check for certain symptoms. Some of them include; red marks, hyperpigmented patches on the small of back, tufts of hair, or small lumps.

Occult Spinal Dysraphism (OSD):

The usual signs for this form are a small dimple at the base of the spine. When the child is suspected to have this, it is examined by a doctor with special types of tools. The spinal cord may not have been closed off the right way in the uterus, and this may lead to major problems when the child is older. Infants should see a doctor right away, and the doctor will suggest further testing.

- Spina Bifida Occulta (SBO):

The "hidden" Spina Bifida. Fifteen percent of healthy people have it, and they only discover it when they get an x-ray of their back. This form does not usually cause harm, but can lead to longer neurological problems. The finding of this form is usually an accidental finding, but they are normally tipped off by back pain and other forms of neurological pain. A tethered cord may need further investigation and treatment by a neurosurgeon.


This causes the spinal cord to come through the spine like a sack, and is pushed out through the back. There is nerve fluid in the sack, but normally, no nerve damage. People with this form have some kind of disability.

-Myelomeningocele (Spina Bifida Cystica):

Most severe form of the disorder. The spinal fluid, cord, and nerves come through an opening of the spine. It can cause severe disabilities and nerve damage. 70-90% of children born with this disorder have too much fluid on the brain. This is due to the draining of the fluid around both the brain and spine cannot drain properly. Without treatment, the swelling can become severe; the head will become too large, and cause severe brain damage.


-Spina bifida Crysicta:

Once diagnosed with this form of Spina bifida, days after diagnosis, the child will undergo surgery to prevent infection of the spinal cord and further damage.


These children will undergo surgery, and are usually not paralyzed. They will normally grow up fine, but in serious cases, they will have issues when they are older. They should have regular check-ups at their doctor.


They should see a surgeon, so that their nerves and brain doesn't suffer any further damage.


this form of Spina Bifida does not need to undergo treatment.


Doctors suggest that women who are pregnant should take folic acid before and during the three months of pregnancy. The suggested amount is 400 mcg (0.4 mg) a day.

-Folic Acid:

A vitamin that a body needs to grow sufficiently. Even though its found in many foods, the man-made supplements you buy in the grocery store is better absorbed in the body.

-Conditions associated with Spina Bifida:

-Social and mental problems

- Walking, or going to the bathroom

- Latex allergies

- Obesity

- Skin breakdown

- Gastrointestinal disorders

- Learning disorders

- Depression

- Tendinitis

- Sexual disorders

-Tests for Spina Bifida:

-Blood tests in the 16th-18th weeks into pregnancy. An Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP screening test) will show 75-80% higher readings in fetuses with Spina Bifida.

- An ultrasound or sonogram will show signs of an open spine.

- The maternal amniocentesis test, where a thin, long needle is inserted into the mother's stomach through the womb, and takes ambiotic fluid from the sac and has the protein levels tested.

Do children that grow up with Spina Bifida live healthy lives?

Yes, with help from the doctor, they can live a fully functioning life. They do well in school, and even some play sports. Thanks to modern medicine, about 90% of children with Spina Bifida grow up to live into their adult ages. 80% of children are very intelligent, and 75% play in some type of sports.

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