Spina bifida is a condition in which the tissue around the spinal cord doesn’t properly close, causing defects in both the spinal cord and backbone. Spina bifida is a birth defect, which means that it occurs in utero.
Detecting Spina Bifida
Most pregnant women are offered screening tests designed to detect spina bifida, including blood tests, ultrasound, and amniocentesis. While most women who have normal tests results will have normal babies, the tests are not definitive. In a small percentage of negative tests spina bifida is present.
Complications of Spina Bifida
Complications of spina bifida include:
- Hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid collects in the brain.
- Meningitis, a serious infection of brain tissue that can cause brain damage or death.
- Partial or complete paralysis of the legs.
Treatment for Spina Bifida
Surgery to close the opening of the vertebrae and but the meninges in place is common. Ongoing treatment for those who have experienced permanent nerve damage is usually needed.