Spina Bifida is a developemental birth defect caused by an incomplete closure of embryonic neural tube. I have whats called Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele which is the worst of all 4 forms of SB, which leads to most people having a disability, like myself.
Spina Bifida can be surgically closed after birth, but this doesnt mean normal function can be restored to that part of the spinal cord. SB can be decreased by upto 75% when the mother takes a daily intake of folic acid upto 3 months before conseption. [When my mother was pregnant this was not known my family was told it was genetics that caused my SB].
The unfused portion of the spinal column allows the spinal cord to protrude through an opening and looks like a cricket ball on the back of the baby. That portion of the cord and nerves are damaged and or are not properly developed. Because of this there is usually a fluid filled sack surrounding the spina cord.
Signs and symptoms:
Children with SB often have what's called Hydrocephalus, this is excessive fluid on the brain (everyone has this fluid which our brain essentually floats in). According to the Spina Bifida Association in America over 73% of people with SB are allergic reaction to latex.
Spina Bifida is caused by failure of the neural tube to close during the first week of pregnancy. In a normal baby the neural tube closes occurs around 28 days after fertalization. Spina Bifida does not follow a direct path of heredity. Studdies have shown that a woman who bares one child with SB have about a 3% chance risk of having another baby with it.
It is now recommeneded that all women who are wanting to get pregnant should take a folic acid supplement 0.4mg a day is the recommended dose. For women who have already had a child with SB should take 4-5mg a day.
Please see a doctor before taking these supplements though.
There is no single cause of SB nor is there a known way to prevent it completely. But as I said before folic acid somehow has been known to help lower the risk. Food sources with folic acid - whole grains, dried beans, leaf vegetables and some fruits.
Screening During Pregnancy:
Most neural tube defects can now be detected during pregnancy by testing the mother's blood and having a detailed fetal ultrasound. SB can be associated with disability as in Downs Syndrome because these pregnancies may result in a spontanious miscarraige. Genetic councilling and further genes testing can be done such as amniocentesis. Though now days ultrasound screaning for SB is parshly responsible for the decline in the defect, as many parents decide to terminate the pregnancy out of fear that the baby will have poor quility of life. But with Modern medical care and more being researched the quility of life for many SB kids has greatly improved.