Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a Nueral Tube Birth Defect that affects babies and developes while the baby is in its mothers womb. Spina bifida is one of the birth defects that has a negative impact on how the neural tube of an unborn baby develops which causes a congenital defect of the spine in which part of the spinal cord and its meninges are exposed through a gap in the backbone. Find out more about Spina Bifida in the sections below:

Definition

Spina Bifida
Congenital defect of the spine in which part of the spinal cord and its meninges are exposed through a gap in the backbone. It often causes paralysis of the lower limbs, and sometimes mental handicap

What is Spina Bifida?

Spina Bifida occurs when the backbone and the covering layers that surround the spinal cord do not fully close and are left open and exposed, depending on the severity. The lower portion of the back is the most prevalent area that Spina Bifida is found.

Spina bifida can also be found in the neck and middle back of the baby, but it is not nearly as common as the lower back. There are mild to severe side effects associated with this defect that will determine the ramifications that spina bifida has on the one afflicted.

How common is Spina Bifida?

Spina Bifida is a relatively rare birth defect. The rates of spina bifida vary from country to country, affecting anywhere from 0.1 to 5 per 1000 births.

What are the Spina Bifida symptoms?

Spina bifida symptoms can vary drastically because there are various degrees to which the defect affects those born with it. The symptoms of spina bifida occulta can include a patch of hair, a birthmark, or a storage of fat around the affected area on the back. The most severe symptoms include a buildup of fluid in the brain, lack of feeling in the arms and legs or no feeling at all and this may cause problems with movement in those limbs, difficulty passing stool and leaking urine and a curve in the the spinal cord.

Three Types of Spina Bifida

There are three types of Spina Bifida, each ranging in different degrees of severity. With the mildest form there could be absolutely zero side effects caused by the disease. On the other hand, with the most severe type of spina bifida it can cause severe physical disabilities.

1 rr5qnbc. Spina Bifida Occulta

This is the most common occurring type of Spina Bifida and fortunately comes with the least severe aftereffects. With spina bifida occulta there can be as little as just one vertebrae of the spinal cord that has failed to form properly or there could be several. Although the vertebrae are malformed to some degree, they are still covered by a layer of skin, therefore nothing is left exposed. For babies that are born with spina bifida occulta they can go on to led normal lives because this form, for the most part, does not cause any disabilities.

2. Meningocele

Meningocele is the least common form of spina bifida. Meningocele does not cause the baby’s vertebrae to be malformed, but it does cause the meninges, the layers that protect the spinal cord and brain, to be forced in between the vertebrae. The meninges are then filled with cerebrospinal fluid causing them to protrude from amidst the vertebrae. With meningocele there maybe a layer of skin covering the meninges or they could possibly be left exposed.

3. Myelomeningocele

Myelomeningocele is the most severe type of spina bifida that presents the most debilitating problems for those born with this congenital malformation. Myelomeningocele presents the biggest problems for babies born with this because the spinal cord does not fuse together properly causing there to be a gap between it.

A portion of the spinal cord is then left exposed through an opening in the back. Also left exposed through the opening are the membranes that surround the unprotected portion of spinal cord. This form of spina bifida, being the most severe, has the most unfavorable side effects to follow. These can include learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and various health problems.

What Causes Spina Bifida?

Although experts haven’t pinpointed exactly what causes spina bifida it is thought to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. If there is a history of neural tube defects in your family it increases your chances of having a baby with this problem. As well, if you have a previous child born with spina bifida your chances of having another child with the same defect is 4%. It is thought that not having enough folic acid present in your diet during pregnancy plays a significant role. Other factors that can play a role are obesity, anti-seizure medications and diabetes that is not properly under control.

Is there a Genetic Link?

There is believed to be a genetic link because having someone in your family born with a neural tube defect makes it more likely that you will have a baby born with spina bifida. Also, if you have one child born with spina bifida this increases your chances by 4% of having another child born with it.

Can Spina Bifida be prevented?

Although you can’t control the genetic factors leading to spina bifida, you do have control over the environmental factors. Having a diet rich in folic acid is thought to help control the likeliness of having a baby with spina bifida. Also, having good control over any medical illnesses and keeping your weight in a healthy range is helpful.

Ultrasound, Detection and Diagnosis

The most common way to detect spina bifida is when an ultrasound is performed showing the defect. An amniocentesis is normally then completed to support the findings of the ultrasound. With all of the genetic testing that is performed on a fetus the number of babies born with spina bifida has drastically decreased due to pregnancies being terminated.

Spina Bifida Life Expectancy

Most people born with spina bifida go on to live completely normal and fulfilling lives. Those, of course, born with the more severe form of spina bifida can be plagued with physical and mental disabilities, but are expected to have a regular life expectancy.

Spina Bifida Pictures

Below you can see the picture of babies with Spina Bifida. Some of them are the survivors as you can see. These Spina Bifida images contain graphic pictures and are not suited for everyone.

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Spina Bifida Resources

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