What is Spina Bifida?

Spina Bifida is a neural tube defect in which the spine does not close properly during the first month of pregnancy.  There are three types of spina bifida:


Spina Bifida Occulta is the least severe form of Spina Bifida and occurs when there are openings in the vertebrae along the spinal column but no severe damage.


Meningocele is the rarest form of Spina Bifida and occurs when a cyst on the spinal cord pokes through the open part of the spine, but the spinal cord remains intact.


Myelomeningocele is the most severe form of Spina Bifida and occurs when the spinal cord or nerves actually protrude through the back and are exposed.


In the third or fourth week of pregnancy, the fetal spinal cord should close.  Scientists are not clear why that doesn’t happen properly in some cases.  In some, but not all cases, it can be linked to a folic acid deficiency in the mother during pregnancy.  The U.S. Public Health Services recommends women consume 400 micrograms of folic acid for at least one month before becoming pregnant and during the first trimester when neural tube defects are likely to occur.


If you would like more information on Spina Bifida, contact the Spina Bifida Association of America at 800-621-3141 or visit them online at www.sbaa.org.


Phone code: 1711

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