SB (SB) is a birth defect. It is a problem with how the spine and spinal cord form. SB can start to form in a fetus before the mother even knows she is pregnant. In some cases, structures that should be inside the spinal canal can slip out, such as:
A blood test of the mother before birth can predict the risk of SB. If the test predicts a high risk of neural tube defects, then two more tests may be done:
Amniocentesis—a sample of the fluid around the baby is taken to measure for factors that point to problems of the spine
Ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to look at the fetal spine
A diagnosis before birth can help you and your doctor make plans. Surgery may be needed soon after birth.
After Birth Testing
After birth, meningocele and myelomeningocele can be seen. Many tests will be needed to find out which bones and nerves are involved. The kidneys may also be harmed. They will need to be watched closely.
Most children with occulta SB will never be diagnosed. It rarely causes any symptoms. It also has few problems. It may be found during a routine medical exam orx-rays of the lower back.
Meningocele SB is treated with surgery. It is done to remove the cyst. This form of SB can be treated.
Treatment for myelomeningocele SB is complex. It may include:
During surgery, the nerves, membrane, and spinal cord are put back into place. It will be done within 24-48 hours after birth. In some cases, it may be done before birth.
Surgery is done as early as possible to prevent further nerve damage. It cannot reverse damage that has happened.
More serious forms of SB may require more surgeries throughout childhood.
Therapists will teach parents how to exercise the infant's legs and feet. Walkers, braces, and crutches will often be needed to let the baby move around.
Complications of SB can be ongoing and extensive. It will be important for you to work with a team of doctors. You will need to get help for your child's physical needs and emotional support for you and your family.
To lower the chance that your baby will be born with SB:
If you plan to have a baby, take folic acidsupplements before the baby is conceived. They should also be continued throughout the pregnancy. A vitamin supplement that has folate may be the best method of getting folate, but you can get it from food as well. Foods with folate are:
Leafy green vegetables
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 medicine that you are taking raises the risk of having a baby with SB .
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.
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.
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. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed July 2, 2018.
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