The most common permanently disabling birth defect in the U.S.
Spina Bifida literally translates to "split spine." Spina Bifida happens when a baby is in the womb and the spinal comlumn does not close all the way.
No one really knows what causes Spina Bifida for certain. Scientists believe that genetic and environmental factors together.
Types of Spina Bifida
Occult Spinal Dysraphism Spina Bifida Occulta Meningocele Myelomeningocele
Occult Spinal Dysraphism
This type of Spina Bifida is where infants are born with a dimple on their lower back. In order to check for Spina Bifida, doctors use special tools and perform tests. Other signs and symptoms include: red marks, hyperpigmented patches on the back, tufts of hair or small lumps. When a child has OSD, their spinal cord may not grow correctly, and can cause serious problems as the child grows.
Spina Bifida Occulta
This is also known as "hidden Spina Bifida." This is because nearly 15% of healthy people have it, they just don't realize it. This form does not usually cause harm, and has no visible signs. The spinal cord and nerves are usually not problematic,and people find out when they have an X-ray on their back due to other problems.
A meningocele causes part of the spinal cord to be pushed out of the spine. The spinal cord will be encased in a sac filled with nerve fluid, with usually no damage. Individuals with this form of Spina Bifida may have minor disabilities.
This is the most severe form of Spina Bifida, and is also known as Spina Bifida Cyctica. It occurs when parts of the spinal cord and nerves slip through the open part of the spine. This causes severe nerve damage along with other disabilties. 70% - 90% of children with this condition also have too much fluid on their brains. This is caused by the fluid to protect the spinal cord and brain is unable to drain properly. Without treatment, the person's head grows too big and may cause brain damage.
A child with Meningomyelocele is usually operated on within two or three days of being born. A child with Meningocele usually has surgery that typically prevents the child from being paralyzed. A child with OSD should see a surgeon. Most doctors recommend surgery early on in order to keep nerves and brain from becoming more damaged as the child develops. Spina Bifida Occulta typically does not need to be treated.