Spina bifida is a birth defect of the spine. The unborn baby’s spine doesn’t form normally. Sometimes the spinal cord and nerves coming from it are affected. This may cause no problems, or it may cause long-term problems with walking, urinating, and passing stool.
Spina bifida affects the middle and lower back
A few children also have brain defects
Defects range from small to large
Small defects usually cause no symptoms
Large defects may cause leg weakness and problems walking, curvature of the spine, or bladder problems
Damage to the brain or spinal cord is much more likely when the tissue visibly bulges from the back of the baby
If parts of the spinal cord are exposed, the baby may develop an infection (meningitis Bacterial Meningitis Meningitis is an infection of the thin layer of tissue that covers your brain and spinal cord. This layer of tissue is called the meninges. In bacterial meningitis, infection of the meninges... read more )
Spina Bifida: A Defect of the Spine
Many children who have small defects have no symptoms. Most symptoms are from brain damage or spinal cord damage.
Doctors do a screening during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. This may include:
Doctors recommend that all women who might become pregnant or who are pregnant take the vitamin folic acid (folate Folate Deficiency Folate deficiency is common. Because the body stores only a small amount of folate, a diet lacking in folate leads to a deficiency within a few months. Not eating enough raw leafy vegetables... read more ). Studies show that folic acid helps prevent spina bifida and similar defects in the unborn baby.
Talk with your doctor about how much folic acid you should take.