- Membranes that surround the spinal cord
- Nerve roots that connect nerves to the spinal cord
- The spinal cord
- Back bones—may be deformed
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- Occulta—small defect in one or more backbones, least severe form, usually no complications
- Meningocele—membranes poke through an open part of the spine and can form a cyst
- Myelomeningocele—most severe form of spina bifida, membranes poke through and contain nerve roots or spinal cord and can lead to:
- Low maternal blood level of folic acid at the time of conception
- Family history of spina bifida
- A mother who had a previous pregnancy with a neural tube defect
- Mother's race: Hispanic or Caucasian of European origin
- Certain medications given during pregnancy
- Sac filled with fluid leading out from the baby's spine
- Spinal cord and tissue may also protrude through the back
- Bowel and bladder problems
- Frequent urinary tract and other infections
- Learning disabilities
- Build up of fluid in the brain
- Curvature of the spine
Inability to walk:
- Muscle weakness and paralysis of the lower extremities
- Hip dislocation
- Foot and ankle deformities
- Many children with myelomeningocele are wheelchair bound
- Amniocentesis —a sample of the fluid surrounding the baby is taken to measure for factors indicating problems of the spine
- Ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to look at the fetal spine
After Birth Testing
If you plan to have a baby, take
supplements before the baby is conceived. They should also be continued throughout the pregnancy. A vitamin supplement containing folate may be the most reliable method of getting folate, but you can get it from food as well.
Foods with significant quantities of folate
- Leafy green vegetables
- Orange juice
- White flour products and cereals fortified with folate
- Plan your pregnancy . Talk to your doctor if you have any of the risk factors listed above. Ask your doctor if any medications that you are taking increase the risk of having a baby with spina bifida.
March of Dimes http://www.modimes.org
Spina Bifida Association of America http://www.spinabifidaassociation.org
Sick Kids—The Hospital for Sick Children http://www.sickkids.ca
Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Canada http://www.sbhac.ca
Aherens K, Yazdy MM, Mitchell AA, Werler MM. Folic acid intake and spina bifida in the era of dietary folic acid fortification. Epidemiology. 2011;22(5):731-737.
Spina bifida. American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/developmental-disabilities/Pages/Spina-Bifida.aspx. Updated May 28, 2014. Accessed June 3, 2014.
Spina bifida. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 21, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2014.
12/3/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Shin M, Besser LM, Siffel C, et al. Prevalence of spina bifida among children and adolescents in 10 regions in the United States. Pediatrics. 2010;126(2):274-279.
- Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 06/2014 -
- Update Date: 06/03/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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