- Membranes that surround the spinal cord
- Nerve roots that connect nerves to the spinal cord
- Spinal cord
- Vertebra (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 cysts
- 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
- Gender: Girls are more likely to have spina bifida.
- 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
- Accumulation of fluid in the brain
- Scoliosis —abnormal curve to 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 a
supplement with at least 400 micrograms every. The supplements must begin 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 medicines that you take 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 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. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated February 2011. Accessed August 9, 2012.
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 . Accessed August 9, 2012.
Spina bifida. March of Dimes website. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/birthdefects%5Fspinabifida.html . Updated August 2009. Accessed August 9, 2012.
12/3/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : 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: Michael Woods
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 00/91/2012 -