Spina bifida is a birth defect caused by incomplete closure of the spinal column before birth. Thi...
Read the full transcript »
Spina bifida is a birth defect caused by incomplete closure of the spinal column before birth. This leaves an opening in the child's back between the bones of the spine, or vertebrae. Spinal membranes or even the spinal cord itself can bulge through the opening. In mild spina bifida, there may be only an opening in the spine with no bulging of the spinal cord. At its most severe, the spinal cord sticks out and is not covered by skin. Treatment of spina bifida depends on its location and severity. When only the protective sac around the spinal cord bulges out and there is no nerve damage, there is a good chance that the area can be closed with surgery, with no remaining effects. When the spinal cord sticks out, the child's legs may be paralyzed. The severity of paralysis depends on the location of the opening. Treatment involves closing the opening with surgery and monitoring the child's growth and development. It may also include: * Equipment such as waist or leg braces, walkers, or crutches * Diet and bowel training, and * Therapy or devices to help bladder control.