Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a birth defect characterized by improper formation of the spinal vertebrae around the spinal cord. There are different degrees of spina bifida, ranging from mild to severe. Mild cases are more common and typically involve the appearance of a dimple, birthmark, or patch of hair on the baby’s back. Many people with mild spina bifida do not know they have it until they get a back X-ray for an unrelated issue. Meningocele is a rare form of spina bifida in which fluid leaks from the spine and pressure builds under the skin, sometimes causing a visible bulge. In the rarest and most severe type of spina bifida, the infant’s skin is open and the spinal nerves are exposed. While medical experts have not yet identified an exact cause of this condition, many believe it results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Women are more likely to have a child with spina bifida if one of their previous children was born with the condition or if they are obese or diabetic. Symptoms of spina bifida vary depending on the severity of the defect. Those with the mildest form of the condition may have no symptoms at all. However, in the most severe cases, children may have spine and brain issues that cause immobility and lack of sensation in the limbs, bladder and bowel control problems, scoliosis, and fluid accumulation in the brain that leads to seizures, learning disabilities, or vision trouble.