Birth Defect: Spina Bifida


Birth Defect: Spina Bifida

It is a birth defect in which there is incomplete closing of the spine and membranes around the spinal cord during early development in pregnancy. Scientists suspect the factors that cause Spina Bifida are multiple: genetic, nutritional, and environmental factors all play a role. Research studies indicate that insufficient intake of folic acid a common B vitamin in the mother's diet is a key factor in causing spina bifida and other neural tube defects.

Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly. It falls under the broader category of neural tube defects. The neural tube is the embryonic structure that eventually develops into the baby's brain and spinal cord and the tissues that enclose them.

There are three main types: Spina bifida occulta, Meningocele and Myelomeningocele.

Spina Bifida Occulta: "Occulta" means hidden. The mildest form, spina bifida occulta results in a small separation or gap in one or more of the bones of the spine (vertebrae). Many people who have spina bifida occulta don't even know it, unless the condition is discovered during an imaging test done for unrelated reasons.

Meningocele: In a form of spina bifida called meningocele, the protective membranes around the spinal cord (meninges) push out through the opening in the vertebrae, forming a sac filled with fluid. But this sac doesn't include the spinal cord, so nerve damage is less likely, though later complications are possible.

Myelomeningocele: Also known as open spina bifida, myelomeningocele is the most severe form. The spinal canal is open along several vertebrae in the lower or middle back. The membranes and spinal nerves push through this opening at birth, forming a sac on the baby's back, typically exposing tissues and nerves. This makes the baby prone to life-threatening infections.

Risk factors includes: Folate deficiency, Family history of neural tube defects, Some medications, Diabetes, Obesity, Increased body temperature are the some risk factors for the cause of Spina Bifida.


Managing Editor
Journal of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation