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Friday, January 14, 2011

Featured Condtion/Disease: Spina Bifida

We are featuring a childhood/infant disease or condition informational post every other Friday.  Today's topic is Spina Bifida.


Spina bifida, a condition present at birth, includes three kinds: Occulta, Meningocele (mild disabilities or problems later), and Myelomeningocele. This fact sheet is about the most serious -- Myelomeningocele.

Spina bifida occurs while the baby is still developing and growing inside the mother. The baby's spine doesn't develop correctly. At birth the spinal cord is open at the back or exposed (also called a neural tube defect). Early in pregnancy, cells form a closed tube (neural tube) that eventually becomes the baby's brain and spinal cord. A neural tube defect happens when the tube does not completely close. A neural tube defect can happen anywhere on the spine, but usually happens to the lower part of the spinal cord. A child born with a neural tube defect usually will have difficulty walking, and may need leg braces, crutches, a walker and, in some cases, a wheelchair (Gargiulo, 2001).

Spina bifida differs for every person. Many children with spina bifida have hydrocephalus (a build-up of fluid on the brain). Because children with spina bifida have problems with the spine, the fluid in the brain does not drain properly.

Other potential difficulties occurring with spina bifida include full or partial paralysis (the inability to move part or all of the body). Children with spina bifida and full or partial paralysis also may have problems with weight gain and obesity.   Since children with spina bifida usually have damage to the spine, they can have problems with the nerves controlling the bladder and bowels. (These nerves are in the lower part of the spinal cord.) They may have problems controlling their bladder and bowel (unable to tell when they need to use the bathroom).

Children with spina bifida more likely have learning disabilities, problems with depression and an allergy
to latex (reaction to a common type of rubber). They sometimes have social and sexual issues because they may go through puberty at a younger age than most children.


If you have a child from the age from birth to three years old, you can have your child screened for spina bifida through the Florida Early Steps program.  Click here to see a list of Early Steps offices in your area.

More Information

To get more information about spina bifida, click here.

*Most of the information provided here is from the Teach More/Love More site, click here to visit their site.

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