Spina Bifida

In this case the membranes poke through an open part of the spine. This forms a cyst. Spinal fluid can leak out. This type can be treated.
This is the most severe form of spina bifida. In this case, the cyst contains membrane, nerve roots, and sometimes the spinal cord. This type can result in severe problems such as:

  • Paralysis and incontinence of bowel and bladder may occur—frequently not cured by surgery
  • Hydrocephalus.—a build up of fluids in the brain that increase pressure on the brain

The cause is not known. As with many other birth defects, there is a strong genetic factor. Many studies have shown a link between a low folate diet in the mother and birth defects. The low folate diets are significantly associated with spina bifida.

Factors that increase the risk of spina bifida include:

  • 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

The most immediate symptom of meningocele and myelomeningocele:

  • Sac filled with fluid leading out from the baby's spine
  • Spinal cord and tissue may also protrude through the back

Infants and children with spina bifida may experience the following long-term symptoms:

  • Bowel and bladder problems
  • Frequent urinary tract and other infections
  • Learning disabilities




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