Spina Bifida – What it isOn September 22, 2017 by Natalie Carroll
In the US, spina bifida is among the leading birth defects that lead to permanent disability. I have been studying this condition for a while trying to understand some basic facts.
The process of the nervous system developing from the neural plate takes place at the early stages of conception. The neural tubes develop happens to be the center of attention since the lower part develops to become the spinal cord while the upper part becomes the brain. During this process, there can be some certain pairs that fail to connect leading to some defects.
Apparently, the neural tube defects are what cause Spina bifida. One of the most conspicuous characteristics of this condition is the incomplete spinal cord and brain development.
Types of Spina Bifida
Spina bifida occulta is considered to be the least severe form and it affects at least 10% to 20% of people in the US. This condition is caused by the malformation during spine development covering it with a skin layer. However, a high percentage of people with this condition are not aware they have it.
Meningocele is a form of spina bifida where the spinal fluid, as well as the spinal cord meninges is protruding from the vertebrae. This one doesn’t have neural implications and victims don’t experience symptoms and they can live a normal life and handle most homemaker appliances.
Myelomeningocele is considered as the most severe form and it occurs when an opening on the spine exposes the neural and other spinal cord elements.
The real cause of this condition is not clearly understood but it is linked to environmental, genetic, and nutritional factors.
Couples who have a child with this defect are more likely to have another one with the same neural defect. In addition, a female with this condition or who has a close relative with spina bifida has a higher chance of having a kid with the condition. Hyperthermia during early pregnancy days has been reported to raise the likelihood of developing a neural disorder. This is one of the reasons why expectant women are told to avoid hot tubs and saunas. But it is worth noting that most victims are born into families without neural disorder records.
Folate deficiency during pregnancy is reported to raise the risk of this condition. Pre-pregnancy obesity has also been linked to neural disorders and some anti-seizure medicines can cause spina bifida.
Spina bifida occulta
Since this form doesn’t involve nerves, it is mild and most children may not even realize they have the disorder. However, the visible characteristics are:
Collection of fat
Abnormal hair on the spine
A small dimple
Spina bifida meningocele
Although this is a rare form, it is manifested as a protrusion through the spinal cord. Since the spinal cord continues to undergo normal development, it’s possible to remove the protrusion with a surgical procedure.
Spina bifida myelomeningocele
It is also referred to as open spina bifida and it is characterized by an open spinal canal in a number of vertebrae. It is manifested by:
Bladder and bowel problems
Regular infections that are life-threatening